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When Has an Arrest Actually Taken Place?

If you've been taken into custody and are no longer free to walk away, you've been arrested. The U.S. Constitution authorizes arrests only if the police have "probable cause" to believe that a crime was committed and that the suspect is responsible.

What Happens After a Suspect Has Been Arrested?

Typically a suspect will be held in a jail or at a police station until the bail is posted or until the arraignment, court hearing for reading of charges against the suspect, has been held. The arraignment must be held within 72 hours of the suspect’s arrest. The police have to release the suspect if they cannot carry the case further.

A suspect in prison has the right to know why they have been arrested and also has the right to speak with the custody officer, the officer in charge of the suspects. A suspect also has the right to have a means of contacting another person outside of jail about the suspect’s arrest.

How Does "Probable Cause" Work?

The probable cause requirement limits the power of the police to deprive people of liberty. Objective factual circumstances are required to establish probable cause and judges make the final determination. Probable cause is not established by saying something like, "I just had a hunch that the suspect was a carjacker." Even if it turns out the person is innocent, an arrest is valid if it is based on probable cause, protecting police against civil suits for false arrest.

Does the Constitution Define "Probable Cause?"

Although the Fourth Amendment establishes the concept of probable cause, it is the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution which comes closest to defining "probable cause." This amendment simply speaks to the deprivation of liberty and rights without the due process of law. An actual definition of "probable cause" is impossible and judges interpret the meaning of probable cause on a case-by-case basis, taking into account:

  • Previous interpretations of probable cause in similar fact situations
  • The judge's views about police rights versus defendants' rights

Does a Miranda Warning Have To Be Read For The Arrest To Be Lawful?

Miranda Warning is a procedure that the police are required to follow if they wish to make a lawful interrogation. If the police arrest a suspect in order to interrogate the suspect, then a Miranda Warning must be given. If, however, the police arrest a suspect without making such an interrogation, then the Miranda Warning need not be given.

Can I Resist An Arrest Which Isn’t Legal?

The legality of resisting an unlawful arrest varies from state to state. However, even if it is legal in the state the suspect is being arrested in, such resistance usually comes with additional restrictions. Also, while the act of resisting an arrest might be lawful, assaulting the arresting officer can be illegal and dangerous. It is usually more advisable to use the law to remedy injuries after the arrest has been cleared This is especially in the case of being arrested pursuant to a John Doe warrant, where it may be difficult to prove that the arrest was unlawful.

Can I File a Lawsuit against the Police for False Arrest?

If you feel the police violated your rights and you want to file a lawsuit to collect money for your injuries, you should speak to a lawyer immediately to learn more about your rights and the complicated legal system.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 10-26-2016 10:48 AM PDT

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