Expert Legal Advice for custody rights and time limits

If you have been arrested on suspicion of having committed a crime, it’s important that you fully understand your right when it comes to temporary detention. You should be informed of your rights and entitlements in a clear and comprehensible way, in a language you understand. This will include your right to remain silent.

Depending on the severity of the accusations and many other factors, your situation may be complex and rapidly changing. It is crucial that you seek expert legal advice as soon as you are detained. Contact our experienced general crime solicitors and speak to one of our advisors - available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Will I Be Detained Pending Charges?

  • You will only be detained ahead of being charged in a few circumstances, including:
  • Very serious accusations, such as murder
  • You could not be identified, or your personal information could not be verified
  • The police have concluded you are at risk of absconding
  • The police have reason to believe you may harm yourself or others

You have the right to be informed of the allegations against you. It is likely you will not be informed of the details of your charges at this point in time, as these will be read to you at the end of your pre-trial detention if necessary.

In most cases, you may inform someone of your arrest, and a solicitor should be provided to you free of charge at this stage. It is advisable to wait until you have discussed your case with a legal professional before starting an interview, or any conversations with police officers. Your solicitor will be present during the interview, and you have the right to stop the interview at any time to speak privately with your legal representative.

How Long Can I Be Held In Custody Before Being Charged?

The rules regarding time limits of detention ahead of charges are clear and strict.

You may only be legally detained for 24 hours from your arrest without being charged and being informed of the allegations against you. An officer - who must hold the rank of Superintendent or higher - may be able to authorise a further 12-hour period of detention in exceptional cases, for a total of 36 hours.

In cases where a further detention is warranted by the necessity to obtain or preserve evidence, and investigations are being carried out in a quick and thorough manner, a magistrate may request up to 96 hours of total detention time by the police. The application hearing for an extension of your detention should be attended by the lawyer handling your case, and could be postponed until you have a legal professional appointed.

If your arrest was made on suspicion of an offence under the Terrorism Act, you may be held in police custody for up to 14 days before a decision regarding your charges is made.

A review officer, who must be at least the rank of investigator and not involved in the case, must review the circumstances of your detention after 6 hours, and every 9 hours until your release. Detention reviews should be attended by your lawyer, who is entitled to comment on the decision.

Can I Be Held In Custody After Being Charged?

You will usually be released immediately after being charged, until your trial takes place. Bail conditions may be imposed depending on your specific circumstances: in this case, you will be asked to attend the magistrates’ court, and have the charges against you read to you.

There are a few situations where a case for your detention until trial can be made. In these cases, you will be brought before a court as soon as possible. The prosecution will then have to present their case against bail - which is the more common outcome of these cases.

Acceptable objections to the release of the accused include:

  • The name, address or other personal details of the accused are unknown or unverifiable
  • There is a risk the accused will commit other offences if released
  • Preventing absconsion
  • The accused may cause harm to himself, others, or property
  • The accused may tamper evidence or interfere with the investigation
  • The accused is a juvenile
  • The charges include murder
  • A drug test for Class A drugs must be carried out - this may impact the bail conditions for the accused, as these can include regular medical examinations or counselling

Your lawyer may contest any of the prosecution’s objections, highlighting how critical it can be to have an expert and competent legal team on your side. Draycott Browne’s criminal defence solicitors have years of experience with similar cases and represent many clients across the UK. Contact us for a consultation about your case today.

Can I Apply for Release On Bail?

A decision regarding your bail will be made by the magistrates’ court following your charges. The magistrate will then make a decision on whether you can be released, and under what conditions.

The court will make its decision based on many factors, including:

  • The severity of the alleged crime
  • Your character and community ties
  • Previous criminal convictions
  • Possible bail history, including breaches and offences while on bail
  • The credibility and strength of the evidence

It is common for bail to be granted awaiting trial, unless a compelling argument against your release is made by the prosecution before the magistrates’ court. You may also be ineligible for bail if your charges include serious offences, which must be heard by the Crown court, such as murder; in this case, you may be kept in custody until your trial.

If released on bail, you may be imposed a number of conditions. These may include:

  • Surrendering your passport or other documents
  • Residing at one, fixed address
  • Regular reports to a police station
  • Imposition of a curfew
  • Restrictions from people or places
  • Wearing an electronic tag

The bail and its conditions will be subject to regular review hearings up until the date of your trial.

What If I Breach Bail?

Breaching your bail conditions or failing to appear before a court constitute a separate offence to the one you have been accused of.

Failing to attend a court hearing while on bail without a justifiable excuse is an offence under the Bail Act, or contempt of court. There is a penalty of up to £5,000, 3 months in prison or both for such an offence towards a magistrates’ court. If the missed court hearing should have happened in the Crown Court, the possible prison sentence can reach 12 months, and a fine can be added.

Breaching your bail conditions may warrant an arrest. You will then be taken into custody and appear before the court. Your bail may be revoked, and you could be kept in custody until the date of your trial.


Arrests are rarely anticipated, and they are not always at a convenient time for those involved. That is why our legal advisors are on hand 24 hours a day, seven days a week, ready to assist you at the police station whenever you need us.

Contacts Us

When your liberty is potentially at stake it is vital that you have the best possible legal team defending you against criminal charges. Draycott Browne regularly represents clients across the UK and has built a formidable reputation across the legal sector.

By entrusting your case to us, one of the UK's top Criminal Defence Law Firms, you can be assured that you will be working with a team of skilled legal experts, who have a thorough and comprehensive knowledge of all aspects of criminal law.

We take pride in our supportive approach, during what can be a stressful and distressing time for many of our clients. You can be sure that you will be treated with understanding, empathy and respect at all times.

Our legal team of Criminal Defence Solicitors is on hand 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We operate within Manchester and across North West England. If you or someone you know has been arrested and needs expert legal advice, call Draycott Browne on +44 (0)161 266 7084 or complete our contact form.

When you are facing the stiffest challenge, you cannot afford to settle for anything less than Draycott Browne.