What procedures must the police follow during an arrest?

One of the first areas where our criminal defense law firm looks for irregularities is the arrest record. For that reason, it is important to understand the process.

As background, the police are bound by certain legal procedures during an arrest, defined as the moment when an individual is taken into custody. Before the police can begin their questioning, an individual in custody and under suspicion for a criminal offense must be read a Miranda warning.

The name comes from a case that went before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1966. In a nutshell, a Miranda warning explains an individual’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, as well as the right to consult with an attorney before speaking to the police.

Of course, procedural protections also apply to the grounds for the arrest itself. In the absence of an arrest warrant, the police generally must have probable cause to arrest a defendant. Probable cause is met when a reasonable person would believe that a person has committed, or is about to commit, a criminal offense. This requirement comes from the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The same standard applies to warrantless searches and seizures.

Our law firm recommends utilizing the right to legal counsel at the earliest opportunity. The reason is practical: A criminal trial is often shaped much earlier in the process by pretrial hearings and motions. Pretrial motions may seek to exclude evidence that was improperly obtained, or perhaps move to strike any statements made by the accused before he or she was read the Miranda warning. Pretrial motions may also seek to exclude one side’s witness(es), perhaps on grounds such as legal incompetency or bias.

Source: FindLaw, “Chronology: The Arrest Process,” copyright 2016, Thomson Reuters

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