Frequently Asked Questions
- What happens if I am arrested?
- Can they use force to arrest me?
- What is a search warrant?
- What is probable cause?
- If a police officer knocks on my door and asks to search my home, do I have to let the officer in?
- What if I agree to the search?
What happens if I am arrested?
If you are arrested for breaking a criminal law, the case is taken before a magistrate who may issue a warrant if necessary and set bond for appearance in court. If the defendant cannot post the bond he may be incarcerated pending appearance in court. If bond is posted, he will remain free pending appearance at an arraignment. An arraignment usually occurs within 24 hours of the arrest or the first date available if on a weekend or holiday. The arraignment is held before a judge of the courts. During the arraignment the defendant is formally told what offense he is charged with, told their constitutional rights, and of the possible penalties. The defendant will enter a plea of guilty or not guilty, bond may be reviewed, and a date for the next hearing will be scheduled.
Can they use force to arrest me?
A police officer may use as much force as is necessary to arrest you. Unreasonable force is assault. After arrest, a police officer may handcuff you if you attempt to escape or the officer considers it necessary to prevent you from escaping. If you claim that force was used to arrest you, a judge will decide whether or not the force used was reasonable in the circumstances.
What is a search warrant?
A search warrant is an order issued by a judge that authorizes police officers to conduct a search of a specific location. Before a search warrant may be issued, there must be a showing of probable cause.
What is probable cause?
This is a difficult one. There is not a bright-line rule establishing precisely what is and what isn`t probable cause. However, what has become apparent is that a finding of probable cause requires objective facts indicating a likelihood of criminal activity. A police officers hunch, with nothing more, will not satisfy the requirements.
Example: Officer Doright observes Tom and Dick walking down the street. Officer Doright has a hunch that Tom and Dick are up to no good. Armed with nothing more, Officer Doright goes to the local judge and attempts to get a search warrant for the boy`s home. Should a judge grant the warrant?
No. A police officer`s hunch, with nothing more, will not satisfy the probable cause requirement. However, if Officer Doright observed Tom and Dick conduct a drug deal, then probable cause would likely exist for a warrant to search their home.
If a police officer knocks on my door and asks to search
my home, do I have to let the officer in?
Unless the officer has a warrant, you are under no legal obligation to let the officer search your residence.
What if I agree to the search?
If you voluntarily consent to a search of your home, automobile, or person, than the officer can conduct a full search without a warrant. Anything that the officer finds can later be used against you in court.