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Can Police Make an Arrest without a Warrant?

Under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, individuals have the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Typically, law enforcement officials must have a warrant to search someone’s person or property or take them into custody. However, not all matters require a warrant, and circumstances might exist where an officer can arrest a person without one.

What Is an Arrest Warrant?

An arrest warrant is a document issued by a court that gives law enforcement officials the authority to arrest the person named. In some cases, officers might actively pursue the individual after the warrant has been issued, meaning they will show up at the person's home or work and arrest them. In other cases, the arrest might be made after something such as a routine traffic stop.

For law enforcement officials to obtain a warrant, they must first present evidence that probable cause exists, suggesting a crime has been committed and the person named was the one who committed it. Probable cause is a broad term that means reasonable belief exists regarding the commission of the offense.

When Can Police Make an Arrest Without a Warrant?

Police don't always need a warrant to make an arrest. Under Connecticut law, if an officer observes someone committing a crime or they have "speedy information" from others, they can execute a warrantless arrest.

As with obtaining a warrant, law enforcement officials need reasonable grounds to take a person into custody. Their actions can't be based on a hunch, and they must consider the totality of the circumstances before making an arrest. For example, if an officer sees someone driving erratically, they could lawfully stop them on suspicion of DUI. If, after pulling them over, they notice that the individual has bloodshot eyes or slurred speech, they have probable cause to make an arrest for driving under the influence.

In misdemeanor cases, regardless of whether or not a warrant is obtained, the officer has the discretion to take the alleged offender into custody or issue a written complaint and summons for that individual to appear in court.

What If Police Make an Unlawful Arrest?

Although law enforcement officials can make a warrantless arrest, they must ensure that they are following proper protocol when doing so. If they didn't have probable cause to take the person into custody, they didn't read the suspect their Miranda Rights, or they overstepped their authority in some other way, their actions could be considered a violation of the law and the individual's rights.

If the case is eventually taken to trial, and information is presented demonstrating the defendant's rights were violated, evidence collected may be suppressed. Having evidence thrown out at court could severely weaken the State's case against the defendant and strengthen their own defense.

Were you or a loved one arrested for an offense in Connecticut? Get aggressive defense and zealous advocacy from our experienced attorneys at Tomeo Sills, LLC. Schedule your free consultation by calling us at (844) 913-7747 or submitting an online contact form today.