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The Arrest Process & Your Rights


You were arrested and taken into the local county jail. If you were wrongly accused of a crime or you were not given a warrant at the time of the arrest, then it is possible that your constitutional rights weren’t protected. It is important to understand what the criminal arrest process entails and what your rights are with each step of the process.

What Does Arrest Mean?

In simple form, an arrest occurs when you are handcuffed or required to spend time in jail. In the criminal justice system, there are two types of arrests that occur:

  • Detention: A detention is less formal than an arrest. Detention occurs when an officer is deciding whether or not an arrest is appropriate. This could occur during a traffic stop or when being questioned on the street by a police officer. Police officers are not required to give you a warrant during a detention.
  • Arrest: An arrest is when an individual is taken into custody. With an arrest, the individual is not allowed to leave and may be confined, either through the use of handcuffs or in a jail cell. An arrest is done to limit an individual’s ability to leave, whether it is to hold them until a judge hearing or to gather more information.

It is important to know the difference between the two when determining whether your rights were violated during the time of arrest. The U.S. Constitution protects people from wrongful arrests or searches, and defining the difference is often important in determining whether your rights were rightly protected.

When is an Arrest Legal?

Perhaps one of the biggest complaints of police wrongdoing is claiming that the arrest of an individual was illegal. While the legal requirements to make an arrest differ from state to state, the following are often required:

  • Probable cause: Probable cause means that the police officer had a probable cause that the individual is, or was, committing a criminal act.
  • Arrest warrant: An arrest warrant gives a police officer written consent to arrest an individual based on probable cause.

If a police officer fails to get an arrest warrant, it is possible that the arrest will not be considered as legal. However, there are exceptions to the requirement of an arrest warrant.

Exceptions to Requiring an Arrest Warrant

An arrest warrant is not always needed when arresting someone. Under emergency situations, the police officer may be able to arrest an individual without a warrant. Another exception is with felony charges. Criminal actions that could lead to felony charges do not always require the use of an arrest warrant.

Misdemeanors are considered less severe, so an arrest warrant is often required unless the illegal act is committed in the presence of a police officer. However, if the individual is endangering the public, such as with driving under the influence, or domestic violence, then the warrant may not be required.

Judicial review is required when someone is arrested without a warrant. A judge will need to evaluate the details of the case to determine whether the arrest without a warrant was appropriate. In most cases, this review needs to occur within 24-48 hours. If probable cause is not determined, then the individual will be released from jail.

If you were arrested and you feel like your rights were violated, then it is important to discuss the case with a criminal defense lawyer. Your criminal defense lawyer will evaluate the details of the arrest and determine whether your case should be dismissed. This could mean avoiding criminal charges and expensive legal fines.

Contact an Experienced Union County Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Criminal Charges in New Jersey

Were you arrested or charged with criminal charges in New Jersey? The consequences of a conviction could be severe, leaving you with a permanent criminal record and possibly even sending you to jail. That is why you need to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your case. The attorneys at Zegas Law have successfully represented clients charged with criminal charges in Essex County, Union County, Morris County, Middlesex County, and throughout New Jersey. Call (937) 379-1999 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team. We have an office conveniently located at 60 Morris Turnpike, Summit, NJ 07901.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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