Elements of an Arrest

Elements of an Arrest

i. The state of being under arrest depends not only on the actions of the law enforcement officers but also on the perception of the suspect

ii. Four elements are necessary for an arrest to take place

a. The intent to arrest

b. The authority to arrest

c. Seizure or detention

d. The understanding of the person that he or she has been arrested

B. Arrests with a Warrant

i. When law enforcement officers have established probable cause to arrest an individual who is not in police custody, they obtain an arrest warrant for that person

a. An arrest warrant contains information such as the name of the person suspected and the crime he or she is suspected of having committed

b. Judges or magistrates issue arrest warrants after determining that the law enforcement officers have indeed established probable cause

ii. Entering a Dwelling

a. An arrest warrant does not give law enforcement officers the authority to enter a dwelling without first announcing themselves

b. Police officers must be known and announce their identity and purpose before entering a dwelling

c. Under exigent circumstances, law enforcement officers need not announce themselves

1. Suspect is armed and poses a strong threat of violence to the officers or others inside the dwelling

2. Persons inside the dwelling are in the process of destroying evidence or escaping because of the presence of the police

3. A felony is being committed at the time the officers enter

iii. The Waiting Period

a. Hudson v. Michigan (2006) weakened the practical impact of “knock and announce” when the court required officers to adhere to procedure and wait the full 15 to 20 seconds before entering

C. Arrests Without a Warrant

i. Arrest warrants are not always required

ii. Most arrests are made on a scene without a warrant

iii. Officers can make a warrantless arrest if one of the following situations exists:

a. The offense is committed in the presence of the officer.

b. The officer has knowledge that a crime has been committed and probable cause to believe the crime was committed by a particular suspect.

c. The time lost obtaining a warrant would allow the suspect to escape or destroy evidence, and the officer has probable cause to make an arrest.

iv. Officers can make a warrantless arrest for a crime they did not see if they have probable cause to believe that a felony has been committed

v. For misdemeanors, the crime must have been committed in the presence of the officer for a warrantless arrest to take place

What If Scenario

What if . . . you are a police officer and you make a good probable cause arrest of a bank robbery suspect as he flees from the bank with a gun into his home. The important details are that you were in hot pursuit, and you followed him as he jumped in his car and fled to his house. You arrested him with the loot and pistol still stuffed into his shirt. Immediately next to him, you find a locked footlocker. You suspect it might have money from another, similar bank robbery, so you seize it and bring it down to the station house where you apply bolt cutters to the lock. As you open the footlocker, you see thousands of dollars in the footlocker, most likely the stolen money from previous bank robberies. Was the search and seizure of the footlocker valid without a warrant under the “search incident to lawful arrest” doctrine? Why or why not?

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