Arrest Without A Warrant and Misdemeanors

Officer arresting a man

In the majority of states, officers aren’t allowed to arrest a suspect for a misdemeanor if he or she doesn’t have a warrant. That is unless officers witness the suspect committing the offense. But what exactly does this mean?

An officer could make a warrantless arrest for misdemeanors if the officer had “probable cause”, regardless if the individual did not actually commit the misdemeanor or won’t be convicted, explains an experienced misdemeanor lawyer in Provo.

Although states have different guidelines regarding the rule that the officer should witness the misdemeanor before an arrest, there are basic guidelines about what cops can’t and can depend on to use probable cause as a basis for a warrantless arrest:

  • A police officer could utilize any of his senses for witnessing the misdemeanor. For instance, if he smells marijuana on a suspect, he might have probable cause to arrest the suspect for marijuana possession and/or use.
  • A police officer could depend on scientific instruments for witnessing a misdemeanor like a radar gun, electric amplification, or binoculars, such that he could use his radar gun to figure out the speed of a driver.
  • Subject to state law, a police officer could utilize reasonable inferences and common sense to look for probable cause. For instance, he could use his own driving speed to establish that a driver is over the speeding limit.
  • If the police officer did not witness the misdemeanor, he can’t arrest a suspect based on the accounts of other people. For instance, if a security guard witnessed a store theft only from video evidence and informs a police officer about it. However, if a police officer witnesses an individual commit a misdemeanor and informs another police officer about it, that officer could arrest the suspect without a warrant.
  • The police officer could depend on the admission of a suspect that he or she just committed or is committing a misdemeanor.
  • If the misdemeanor does not happen in the presence of the police officer, he could attempt to get a warrant of arrest to arrest the suspect.

In layman’s terms and most cases, a misdemeanor must happen in the police officer’s presence for the arrest to be considered legal. If you’re arrested for a misdemeanor, seek help from a criminal attorney as soon as possible to determine the circumstances of your case and arrest. This is especially crucial if you believe that your arrest wasn’t legal and that you have a chance of challenging it in court.