How long can you be held for questioning?

On Behalf of | Apr 30, 2021 | Criminal Law |

Being questioned by police in Texas is one of the most stressful situations anyone can find themselves facing. Police officers commonly do not question anyone who is not suspected of criminal activity, and their powers regarding reasonable suspicion range widely. As long as they have reason to believe they can find evidence of a commission of a crime, they can keep asking questions without telling the individual being questioned that they are a suspect. Police are under no obligation to be truthful in questioning. The question then becomes, how long can police detain an individual without conducting an arrest or the prosecutor filing a charge? The answer varies.


There are no set time limits established in federal criminal law regarding constitutional rights when being detained. However, judicial precedent has typically set two hours as the time limit to decide on an arrest when evidence is found. A prime example is being tested for impairment at a police station using an acceptable BAC machine.

Prosecutor decisions to charge

Officers who think they have probable cause to arrest will do exactly that and then file paperwork with the district attorney. While again there is no set response time, criminal law legal professionals will usually expect prosecutors to file or drop charges within 72 hours. In addition, judges must consider requests for bonding out of jail as soon as the documentation is submitted to the district attorney.

Very rarely do Texas police officers detain individuals suspected of criminal activity waiting on a decision to charge from the prosecutor. It does happen, but not often. And when this does occur, it is best to request to speak with a criminal defense attorney immediately when charges have yet to be filed.