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Understanding when an arrest may be unlawful

This blog recently discussed the criminal justice process. It is essential to also keep in mind that during the criminal justice process individuals accused of a crime have important criminal defense rights. Some of those rights relate to arrests and the requirement that an arrest must be lawful to be valid. An arrest is important because it usually initiates the criminal justice process against an accused individual.

An arrest is typically the first step in the criminal justice system. When an accused individual is arrested, they are taken into police custody and are not free to leave or move around. An arrest is made based on the use of police authority. Police can only lawfully arrest an accused individual in certain circumstances. Lawful arrest circumstances include when a police officer has personally observed an individual commit a crime.

If the police officer has not witnessed the crime being committed, they may also lawfully arrest an accused individual if they have probable cause. Probable cause requires that the police officer reasonably believes, taking into account the facts and circumstances, that a crime has been committed and that the accused individual has committed the crime. A police officer may also arrest an accused individual based on an arrest warrant. The arrest warrant should identify the crime that has allegedly been committed; identify the individual accused of committing the crime; provide the location where the accused individual may be found; and provide permission to police officers to arrest the individual identified in the warrant.

When an arrest is unlawful, it may cause the charges or evidence resulting from the arrest to be thrown out. It is important for individuals accused of a crime to be familiar with all of their criminal defense rights and protections. Additional criminal defense rights include the right to remain silent and protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, among others. Additionally, individuals accused of a crime have the right to defend against the charges they are facing and a strong criminal defense strategy may involve a number of their rights and protections.

Individuals accused of crimes should always know how to respond and be familiar with the protections available to them and with their rights. Criminal defense rights and protections are important in the high-stakes criminal justice process.

Source: Criminal.findlaw.com, "Arrest," Accessed Aug. 13, 2016

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