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What to expect . . . . if you are placed under arrest

An officer may walk up to you on the street and ask questions, including your name. If they develop a reasonable suspicion you might be a threat - say it's a high-crime area, and there's a bulge in your waistband at the back - they may even detain and pat you down. That's not the same as getting arrested. It is sometimes called a "Terry stop" for the U.S. Supreme Court decision, Terry v. Ohio, that gave officers that authority.


An officer may stop your car if he develops a reasonable suspicion that you are committing a violation. For example, weaving back and forth and rolling through stop signs would do it. Then, they can ask you anything, including whether you have been drinking. They also can ask to see your identification and proof that you have legal use of the vehicle and valid state permission to drive on public roads.


An officer may arrest you if they see you commit a crime. For example, if an officer sees you punch someone, then determines that you had no legal right or permission to do so, they have probable cause, and you are likely to be arrested. This is known as an "on-view arrest" because the officer saw the crime occur. No arrest warrant is necessary.


If you are a suspect in a crime, detectives may come to your house to speak to you, or ask you to come to the sheriff office to "clear up a few things." The Supreme Court ruled in Miranda v. Arizona they must first advise of your rights:

• You have the right to remain silent.

• Anything you say or do can and will be held against you in a court of law.

• You have the right to an attorney.

• If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.

• Do you understand these rights I have just read to you?


They may ask to search your home or car without obtaining a search warrant . . . and the law allows them to do that as long as they get your permission first. Whatever they find, just like anything you say in a voluntary interview, may be used as evidence for your arrest and in a trial against you.

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