Can I Be Arrested Without an Arrest Warrant?

man arrested by two policemen

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Most of us are under the impression that we cannot be arrested unless the police have a warrant in hand. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and your arrest could well hinge on the premise of probable cause.

The Fourth Amendment allows police officers to make an arrest, so long as probable cause exists. Probable cause is meant to prevent police states stopping law enforcement from arresting those they perceive as a threat without sufficient justification to back up that perception.

The probable cause theory can be very vague, however is generally interpreted as the following:

  • There must be factual evidence to support probable cause, rather than a hunch or suspicion;
  • Observations which create suspicion can establish probable cause (i.e., cars steadily coming and going at a suspected drug dealer’s home);
  • Information from witnesses, victims and informants can be used to determine probable cause;
  • Probable cause can be determined through police “expertise,” including knowledge of movements or gestures indicating criminal activity, and
  • Circumstantial evidence—evidence which only indirectly indicates a crime has occurred—can lead to probable cause.

Probable Cause Before the Arrest or After?

Probable cause could be established prior to an arrest by law enforcement, or could also be established after the fact by a judge. This means that while a police officer might judge there was probable cause, a judge can later determine there was no probable cause.

If this should happen, any evidence obtained without probable cause would become inadmissible in court. You, like many people, could wonder just how much evidence is required to result in probable cause. The standard is meant to be flexible, but that very flexibility can result in extremely murky waters for the suspect.

The probable cause standard is meant to balance the rights of police to protect the people and conduct investigations against the rights of citizens to not be harassed. Judges often make their decisions regarding probable cause based on such personal issues as their views on defendant’s rights, police and government interference.

The judge could also make such a decision based on his or her own interpretations of what those who drafted the Fourth Amendment truly meant to protect.

Immediate Danger Could Create Exception to the Probable Cause Rule

State statutes vary considerably, however if you happen to be engaging in an activity which appears to present an immediate threat to you, the public, or law enforcement, then there may be exceptions to the requirement for a warrant.

Generally speaking, a police officer cannot arrest you for a misdemeanor which was not observed by anyone else, without a warrant in hand.

The exception to the probable cause rule would be for a domestic violence act, or an act of criminal mischief. For a felony crime, if law enforcement officers have probable cause, they can usually arrest without a warrant.

Your criminal history could also come into play when determining probable cause. If you have committed a specific offense more than once, then the second, third or subsequent act could be classified as a felony, therefore might not require a warrant for your arrest.

Exceptions to the probable cause rule could also exist if you appear to be destroying evidence of a crime, or if law enforcement officers are in “hot pursuit” of you.

Under Mississippi law, an officer may arrest you without a warrant when the officer has reasonable suspicion that you have committed a felony offense. During an arrest without a warrant, the law enforcement officer must inform the accused of the cause of the arrest—unless the accused is in commission of the crime, or is arrested during hot pursuit. You may be arrested for a misdemeanor crime without a warrant if the officer has probable cause to believe you knowingly committed an act of domestic violence or violated a protective order.

Contact Our Jackson Criminal Defense Lawyers

If you feel you were arrested without a warrant and without probable cause, it is important to speak to a Mississippi criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At Coxwell & Associates, PLLC, our criminal defense attorneys believe in fighting aggressively for everyone that has been accused of a crime. Contact Coxwell & Associates today at 1-601-948-1600 or 1-877-231-1600.

Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

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