In 19th century France, were police able to send people to jail without a trial, as presented in “Les Misérables”?

This is inspired by this question from Literature.se

In the book, the police inspector Javert arrests a prostitute who has attacked an “upstanding citizen”. Following this arrest he thinks to himself:

This class of women is consigned by our laws entirely to
the discretion of the police. The latter do what they please
,
punish them, as seems good to them, and confiscate at their
will those two sorry things which they entitle their industry and their liberty. Javert was impassive; his grave face
betrayed no emotion whatever. Nevertheless, he was seriously and deeply preoccupied. It was one of those moments
when he was exercising without control, but subject to all
the scruples of a severe conscience, his redoubtable discretionary power. At that moment he was conscious that his
police agent’s stool was a tribunal. He was entering judgment. He judged and condemned

Eventually, his ruling (six months in jail) is overruled by a mayor, who cities a particular law allowing him to do so:

‘The matter to which you refer is one connected with the
municipal police. According to the terms of articles nine,
eleven, fifteen, and sixty-six of the code of criminal examination, I am the judge. I order that this woman shall be set
at liberty.’

Is the scene presented in book realistic for that time and place? I know, that there might be a difference in sending someone to jail, as opposed to prison (even currently, one can be sent to jail by police for about 48 hours without conviction), but 6 months of arrest without a trial seems a bit harsh.

I’ve tried searching for the arrest rules in the 19th century France, but unfortunately met quite a few paywalls, like for example the book ”
The Promise of Punishment: Prisons in Nineteenth-Century France” which is not available for free.

So, from the purely historical point of view – are the actions depicted by this fragments historically accurate?

1 Answer
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