Arrest without a warrant in DC

Mark RollinsFailure to Appear

Probable cause to arrest in DC

Police need probable cause to arrest otherwise suppress it

Arrests without warrant by law enforcement officers.

The law in the District of Columbia does allow police officers to arrest without a warrant.  In fact,  DC Code 23–581 provides that

(a) (1) A law enforcement officer may arrest, without a warrant having previously been issued therefor –

(A) a person who he has probable cause to believe has committed or is committing a felony;

(B) a person who he has probable cause to believe has committed or is committing an offense in his presence;

(C) a person who he has probable cause to believe has committed or is about to commit any offense listed in paragraph (2) and, unless immediately arrested, may not be apprehended, may cause injury to others, or may tamper with, dispose of, or destroy evidence; and

(D) a person whom he has probable cause to believe has committed any offense which is listed in paragraph (3) of this section, if the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that, unless the person is immediately arrested, reliable evidence of alcohol or drug use may become unavailable or the person may cause personal injury or property damage.

If the Officer does not have probable cause – the fruits of the search and seizure must be suppressed by filing a motion with the Court

So in order for a police officer to effect a lawful arrest, the police must have probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed and the suspect committed it. Beck v. Ohio, 379 U.S. 89, 91 (1964); Brown v. United States, 590 A.2d 1008, 1012 (D.C. 1991). Probable cause must be viewed objectively and not by the subjective belief of the arresting officer.  Beck, 379 U.S. at 97.  When the police did not have probable cause to believe that  was involved in any criminal activity at the time they seized him.    A person is seized when, in view of the surrounding circumstances, that person’s movement is restricted either by a show of force or authority and a reasonable person would not feel free to leave.  Michigan v. Chesternut, 486 U.S. 567, 573 (1988) (decision by full majority citing United States v. Mendenhall, 446 U.S. 544, 554 (1980) (opinion by Stewart, J.).    Lastly, individuals are free from the threat of arrest when police lack probable cause to suspect that they have committed, or are about to commit a crime.  A “[P]robable cause case must be decided on a judgment whether what was done was reasonable [from the perspective] of the [officer] taking action.”  Tobias v. United States, 375 A.2d 491 (D.C. 1977).   So if you are arrested in the District of Columbia, make sure that your lawyer files a motion to suppress the evidence if there was no probable cause for the stop.

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