When Can An Officer Make An Arrest?
When an officer makes an arrest, there are a number of steps and procedures they must follow while taking a suspect into custody. This protocol is meant to protect the person being arrested and, more specifically, ensure their rights are being met each step of the way.
Because of the unique circumstances that present themselves with each individual arrest, there are often a lot of questions about when an arrest has actually occurred. Generally speaking, an arrest has been made when an individual cannot freely leave an officer’s custody. This may be done willingly or unwillingly, with or without constraints. Either way, an arrest is the result of an officer exercising their authority over another which does not allow them to leave.
An Officer Has Witnessed a Crime
One of the most straightforward reasons a police officer can make an arrest is if they actually see someone committing a crime. This could include anything that an officer witnesses themselves like a robbery or assault taking place. Another example is if an officer pulls over a driver for driving recklessly and, through administering a field sobriety test, finds out the suspect is over the legal limit. Anytime an officer sees a crime take place firsthand, they have a right to make an arrest.
If you are unsure of your rights as a suspect or question the legality of your arrest, you should always contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer. They understand the complex laws that govern criminal cases and can determine whether or not an arrest was justified and carried out lawfully.
When Probable Cause Exists
The theory of “probable cause” is one of the most misunderstood legal concepts. It relies on an officer’s suspicion that a crime has taken place and can often be open to interpretation. If an officer looks at a set of facts or a particular situation and believes that a person has or is going to commit a crime, they can make an arrest. There are numerous circumstances under which an arrest can be made for probable cause.
For example, if a police officer hears a report of an armed robbery and soon after sees a suspect who fits the description, the officer can temporarily hold that person and conduct a brief interview and pat down. If, during this process, he finds a large sum of cash and a gun, he then has probable cause to arrest the person under suspicion of armed robbery.
Arrest via Warrant
Sometimes an arrest warrant may be issued that allows a police officer to take a specific person into custody. An arrest warrant is an official document that gives an officer permission to arrest a person. It usually results from an officer’s sworn statement attesting to the facts of a crime and the suspected individual who perpetrated it. Once signed by a judge or magistrate, the officer is legally allowed to take the person named in the warrant into custody.
Officers have a duty to protect the constitutional rights of citizens, even when being taken into custody. If certain factors exist or conditions not met, an arrest may be deemed unlawful. In these instances, charges can ultimately be dismissed against a suspect or evidence thrown out of their case. Always consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can advise you on your rights and ensure they remain protected as you make your way through the criminal justice system.