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When Do the Police Need a Warrant to Make an Arrest?

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Before making an arrest, the police must go through the required procedures. However, those procedures vary depending on the circumstances. One of those procedures involves getting a warrant.

In some cases, a police officer can arrest you without a warrant. But, at other times, a warrant is a necessity. It’s important to understand the laws regarding warrants so you can make sure no one violates your rights. If you do believe an officer violated your rights, you can contact us at Cole Paschall Law. A Fort Worth criminal defense attorney can help you beat your charges.

What is an Arrest Warrant?

An arrest warrant is a legal order that gives the police authority to take someone into custody. If law enforcement has reason to believe that a suspect committed an illegal act, they can ask a judge for this type of warrant.

Generally, a judge bases their decision on sworn statements given by the police officer. In the statements, the officer explains why they should receive an arrest warrant. Their reasoning could be based on observations or witness testimony. The testimony needs to be believable, or the judge is likely to dismiss their testimony.

When Isn’t a Warrant Necessary?

If the police have probable cause of a felony crime, they usually do not need a warrant. Probable cause means the police have reason to believe that it’s more likely than not that the suspect committed the crime in question. Because they have a strong case against the individual, they don’t need a judge’s permission to make an arrest.

For example, the crime might be committed in front of the police officer. As a witness to the crime, the officer can pursue and arrest the individual.

Usually, a police officer needs a warrant to arrest someone in their home. This is true even when they have probable cause. However, there are exceptions. They may be able to make a warrantless arrest if there are circumstances that make getting a warrant impractical. Known as exigent circumstances, these situations can involve:

1. A Police Officer in Pursuit of a Suspect Who Enters a Home or Apartment

In this case, the officer wouldn’t be able to get a warrant in time. They would need to stop the chase, which would allow the suspect to get away. The police must be in “hot pursuit” of the suspect. In other words, the police must follow the suspect into the home.

2. An Officer Believes Someone Inside a Home is in Danger or That Evidence Will Be Destroyed

This is referred to as exigent circumstances. If someone inside a home is in imminent danger, a police officer shouldn’t have to wait for a warrant. In order to prevent immediate harm, the law allows the officer to enter the home and arrest the suspect. This can also be applied to a situation where evidence might be destroyed.

3. Someone Lets the Officer Into the Home

Although it’s unlikely for a suspect to welcome a police officer into their home, someone else in the residence could do so. In this situation, the officer does not need a warrant. The person inviting the officer into the home must have the legal right to do so.

When Do Police Need Arrest Warrants?

There are times when warrants are required. Here are a few cases in which the police would need a warrant before making an arrest:

1. Arrests Inside a Home

As previously mentioned, arrests inside a home usually require a warrant. But there are ways in which the police can work around the restriction. While the officer obtains a warrant, the law allows the police to post an officer at the home to prevent escape. If the suspect attempts to leave, the posted officer can detain them.

2. Misdemeanor Crimes

In most cases, probable cause of a misdemeanor crime is not enough to make an arrest. When the police suspect someone is guilty of a misdemeanor, they must get a warrant.

It’s worth noting that even small crimes that only result in a fine can involve an arrest. As long as the police have the warrant, they can arrest the individual. There are, however, exceptions where the police can make a warrantless arrest for a misdemeanor crime.

After an Arrest Without a Warrant

If the police arrest you without a warrant, they need to be able to prove their against you. The Fourth Amendment requires that the police must convince a judge of probable cause shortly after they make the arrest. If they fail to do so, they cannot keep the suspect in custody.

Usually, the evidence needs to be presented to a judge within 48 hours. There are some exceptions to this, and the timeline varies depending on the circumstances.

If an officer arrests you without a warrant, you should speak to an attorney. Oftentimes, law enforcement officers fail to follow proper procedures. With the help of Cole Paschall Law, you may be able to beat or reduce your charges. Contact us today and learn more about how we can help you.

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