Most of the time, the police need an arrest warrant to arrest a suspect. However, certain situations cannot wait for a warrant, and a warrantless arrest may be possible.
The police are required to have a warrant based on probable cause before they can arrest someone. However, certain circumstances allow officers to arrest suspects without a warrant. One of the most common reasons for warrantless arrests is that the officer witnesses the crime in progress or believes the crime was just committed, and the suspect must be apprehended now. The police need to articulate why the arrest meets an exception for the warrant rule, and if they cannot, we can challenge the validity of the arrest. If you are being arrested without a warrant, do not resist, and call a lawyer.
The police can be an intimidating force to reckon with, but they are bound by the law the same as anyone else. Call our New Jersey criminal defense lawyers if you were arrested with or without a warrant. For a free case review, call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956.
The Warrant Requirement in New Jersey
The warrant requirement is practically the gold standard for policing and your rights. The police do not have the authority to arrest anyone at any time for whatever reason. A warrant must be issued to the police allowing them to arrest a specific suspect for an alleged criminal offense.
A valid arrest warrant must be based on probable cause. An exact definition of probable cause is difficult to pin down because probable cause varies from case to case. Even so, probable cause cannot be a mere hunch or gut instinct by a police officer that something is wrong. Probable cause must consist of articulable evidence and information that supports the officer’s belief that a crime was committed and the suspect is the perpetrator.
Probable cause must also be sufficient. A single incriminating detail might not be enough to justify an arrest warrant. For example, if the police are looking for a bank robber last seen wearing a red jacket and blue jeans, they cannot simply arrest the next person they see matching that description. While they can certainly stop the individual, an arrest requires more probable cause.
Gathering and establishing probable cause for an arrest warrant often takes time. Some cases cannot wait, and arresting a suspect without a warrant might be necessary when time and community safety are of the essence. In such cases, a warrantless arrest might be permitted. Our Atlantic City criminal defense attorneys can help you challenge the validity of such an arrest.
Arrests Without a Warrant in New Jersey
While warrantless arrests are possible, they may only occur under specific circumstances. The police still must have sufficient probable cause to justify the arrest, but they do not have to get the warrant before executing the arrest. Often, the police will claim that they executed a warrantless arrest because they believed the suspect was dangerous or would flee before a warrant could be obtained. Our Wildwood criminal defense attorneys can help you challenge these accusations and hopefully avoid criminal prosecution.
The police can arrest someone without a warrant if they witness the crime in progress. For example, if the police stumble upon someone robbing another person at gunpoint, they can arrest the robber without needing a warrant. Not only did they witness the arrestee commit the crime, but the arrest could not wait because the victim was in grave danger.
The police do not necessarily have to witness the crime to make a warrantless arrest. While disorderly person offenses typically must occur in front of the officer for them to make a warrantless arrest, indictable crimes are a different story. Indictable crimes need not be committed in the officer’s presence, but the officer should have probable cause to believe that the offense just occurred and that the person they are arresting committed the crime. For example, a person fleeing the scene of a robbery can be arrested without a warrant even though the officer did not witness the robbery. The suspect fleeing may establish enough probable cause for the officer to make the arrest.
Once in custody, the suspect must be taken without undue delay to a judge, where the police must articulate why they made the arrest and prove probable cause. The judge can issue the warrant authorizing the arrest, and the defendant must remain in custody.
How to Fight a Warrantless Arrest in New Jersey
Our team of South Jersey criminal defense lawyers can help you challenge the validity of your arrest on several fronts. First, we must review the probable cause claimed by law enforcement justifying the arrest. Probable cause must be sufficient for the arrest to be valid. If the probable cause is lacking, or perhaps fabricated or embellished, we can argue that the arrest was unlawful and that you should be released.
Next, we must determine whether proper procedures were followed. In many cases, the police must bring the arrested suspect before a judge and explain what probable cause they believe existed to justify the warrantless arrest. This must occur without undue delay, as suspects cannot be held in custody long without a warrant authorizing the detention. If you were not brought before a judge or had to wait a long time, we can claim the arrest was invalid.
Charges might still be pending even if the arrest was invalid, but we can suppress any evidence that might have been seized pursuant to the unlawful arrest. Any incriminating details the police obtained from you or seized from you during the arrest should not be allowed to be used against you.
Contact Our New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorneys for Assistance
Warrantless arrests are not uncommon, but they must adhere to very specific legal requirements. If you were arrested without a warrant, our Northfield, NJ criminal defense lawyers can help you challenge the case against you and get you released. For a free case assessment, call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956.