MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - If you're not charged with a crime, the cops can't hold you in jail for 48 hours, so says the Memphis city attorney. The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals agrees, saying cops and prosecutors are violating the U.S. Constitution.
But the Memphis Police Director and the Shelby County District Attorney are fighting this one.
If you're a suspect, and if a magistrate finds there's probable cause that you broke the law, police in Memphis can put you in jail for 48 hours without charging you with a crime. Even with the appeals court saying its unconstitutional, local District Attorney Amy Weirich says she's going to try and get the ruling changed.
"Individuals are held after probable cause has been found by one of the many judicial commissioners that we are blessed to have that work 24 hours a day at 201 Poplar that review cases. There is a probable cause finding," Weirich stated.
Several times in the last 11 years courts have criticized the Memphis process. Now the city attorney has ordered it to stop.
Director Toney Armstrong said that as long as a judge thought a suspect might have been the guy who committed the crime, they would continue with putting him in jail, up to 2 days, without filing charges.
"I don't think we have to change anything that we're doing," Armstrong stated. "Every arrest we make that needs us to place a hold on someone, we've always gone before a magistrate. The magistrate always made sure probable cause was there before that order was granted."
City Attorney Herman Morris decided to tell all involved to stop using the 48 hour hold Friday afternoon. This is the first time that any city attorney has gotten involved in this issue, which is interesting, because District Attorney Weirich indicated she would join forces with the State Attorney General to appeal the ruling.
"We will work with the State Attorney General's office and discuss appealing that ruling as we do often on a court of appeals rulings."