Why the Police May Arrest You without a Warrant
In most cases, police officers can only arrest you if they have a valid arrest warrant. However, there are exceptions to this rule. Here are five examples of situations in which you may be arrested without a warrant:
Witness to a Crime
An officer who sees you committing a crime doesn't have to get a warrant to arrest you. For example, if a police officer sees you inhaling an illegal drug, then he or she can arrest you without a warrant.
Reasonable Suspicion of a Crime
A police officer doesn't have to see you actually committing a crime before he or she can arrest you; mere suspicion is enough. Of course, the arresting officer must have probable cause for suspecting you of the crime. For example, suspect descriptions are often sent to police officers who are in places where they could see the suspect. Therefore, if your descriptions seem to match those of a wanted person, then a police officer may arrest you without a warrant.
Threatening to harm somebody may also get you arrested without a warrant. For this to happen, the threat must be imminent and real. For example, if you are wielding a knife and threatening to stab someone, then a police officer is allowed to arrest you. This is done to restrain you from causing the harm you are threatening to commit.
Disobeying a Court Order
Suppose you have a restraining order against you that requires you to remain at least 50 feet from your former spouse's house or car. If a police officer realizes that you have encroached on this distance, then he or she doesn't need a warrant to arrest you. This is to protect the person protected by the order.
Violating a Foreign Protection Order
This last example involves a foreign protection order, which is an injunction (issued by another jurisdiction) for protecting victims or potential victims of sexual abuse, harassment, or stalking. Many jurisdictions, such as New Hampshire, have laws that allow peace officers to arrest those who violate foreign protection orders even if the officers do not have warrants. In such cases, it might not even matter whether you commit the violation in the officer's presence or not.
You should always cooperate with government authorities if they come to arrest you. Resisting arrest because the officers do not have a warrant for your arrest can cause problems for you later on. Instead, you should cooperate with them and let your attorney handle any complaints you may have against the arresting officers. For further questions about this topic, contact a criminal defense attorney, like one from Miller Law LLC.