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State law and court rules govern. However, if the person is being held in a county jail or local jail, he/she can usually be held no longer than 72 hours without being charged and/or brought before a judge or magistrate for an arraignment on a formal charge. This answer assumes that there are no intervening issues.
Also, as you may know the US government can hold prisoners for longer periods of time without a charge being brought...ie prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.
If a person has pled guilty or is found guilty, the time a person may await sentencing may vary. There may need to be a pre-sentence investigation report, etc. and there may be scheduling issues with the court or the defendant's attorney.
If a person has been charged and is awaiting trial, many things may intervene before the case is concluded. A person may be held, in all circumstances, after charges are brought until he/she posts the bond that is set by the court, or the case is concluded and the person is sentenced.
While a person is incarcerated on a charge, there may be adjournments of hearings, motions (asking the court to do something), plea offers, or getting a trial date. But, depending on your state law, if through no fault of the Defendant, he/she is incarcerated for a period of time (eg.180 days) without being brought for trial, he/she has a right to be released on bond while awaiting trial. Remember, however, if the defendant or his attorney asks for adjournment, or other things that delays the case, that does not count toward the maximum time the defendant may be held.
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You should contact an attorney in the locality where the person is being held to assist you further. You can contact the local bar association for a referral. They will probably give you 2 or 3 names. You may be able to consult them by phone, or ask to set up an appointment. Sometimes, those consultations are free.
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