This is often a popular topic in TV and movies: just when exactly is someone legally under arrest? If you go by what you see on the television, it’s clearly when the cops whip out the handcuffs and slap them on the perp. In real life, however, the distinction is not always so black and white.
To help clear up any ambiguity, we decided to spend some time on this topic. This post covers the specific circumstances that, as per California law, constitute a legal arrest. Remember, if you or someone you know has been arrested and charged with a crime, you should always consult with a skilled criminal defense attorney, as web research is not an adequate replacement for professional legal assistance.
What Circumstances Entail A Legal Arrest?
Generally speaking, arrests across California occur in one of three ways:
- Via a warrant issued by a judge. An officer has to submit a sworn statement first, which is reviewed by a judge before he/she grants the officer legal authority to arrest the suspect.
- Via probable cause. When an officer has reasonable belief that a crime occurred, he or she can rely on established guidelines to assess the facts and determine whether he/she can proceed with a lawful arrest
- When an officer directly witnesses a crime. The officer witnessing the offense can proceed to make a lawful arrest then and there.
The specific circumstances of the arrest itself can vary significantly, and the cinematic brandishing of the handcuffs is not always part of the equation. However, if one of the three examples above apply, an arrest becomes lawful and the suspect can be taken in.
Remember that you are entitled to challenge your arrest, which is where we at the Jacot Law Firm can help. To learn more about what we do, and to schedule a free initial consultation with a skilled criminal defense attorney, we invite you to call us directly at 209-463-1800.