Arrest is when a police officer exercises his/her authority over an individual by taking the individual into custody. Physical restraints, such as handcuffs, while frequently used, are not necessary; the suspect can voluntarily submit to the arrest. It should be noted that strict protocol govern every stage of the arrest and questioning process and if an officer violates these, the case may be dismissed. A traffic ticket attorney can be of great service when determining if one’s rights have been violated.
A police officer may arrest a person for three reasons:
- Observation of a Crime: A police officer can arrest any individual that he/she witnesses committing a crime.
- Probable Cause: If a police officer has reasonable belief (arising from facts, observation, circumstances) that an individual has committed a crime, the officer can (and should) legally arrest that individual. Probable cause is often hotly contested in court.
- Warrant: An arrest is lawful if a police officer has a valid warrant, issued by a judge or magistrate.
If you are arrested, you should continue to be polite to the police officers. You should not talk with anyone about the case except for a lawyer. You should speak with a lawyer before answering any police questions, tests, or submitting to a lineup. Also, you should not hide your face from any reporters, as it looks like the act of a guilty person and is thus incriminating (even though celebrities and people in movies do it all the time). You should keep in mind that every statement you make can be held against you. Often, attempting to cooperate with the police in this way can be counterproductive. Once you are arrested, there is no easy way out; you must submit to the criminal process.