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Do the Police Need a Warrant to Arrest Me?

In most cases, police need a warrant to arrest you, but they can arrest you without a warrant if they clearly see you breaking the law.

The right to due process underlies many of the actions of the criminal court, but the level of detail with which the courts must follow the process varies according to how much is at stake. For example, if you are facing accusations in criminal court or traffic court, you may hire a lawyer to represent you. Defendants accused of misdemeanors or felonies in criminal court have the right to representation by a public defender if they cannot afford to hire a lawyer; meanwhile, in traffic court, representation by a lawyer is optional, and public defenders do not take on traffic court cases. Likewise, in many criminal cases, police cannot arrest people whom they suspect of committing a crime unless they have obtained an arrest warrant from the court. In some instances, though, the case is so straightforward that police have the right to make an arrest on the spot. The Atlanta criminal defense lawyers at Ghanayem & Rayasam can help you if you think that your arrest was a violation of your legal rights.

What are Arrest Warrants, and How Do They Work?

You cannot be convicted of a crime unless you plead guilty or unless a jury finds you guilty at trial. The state must respect your rights as it gathers and presents evidence to persuade jurors of your guilt. A police officer cannot arrest you just because you look shady or because someone called the police department and accused you of a crime. When police receive a tip about a crime, they must investigate further to find corroborating evidence if they can and to see if the accusation is credible. Then they must ask the court to issue an arrest warrant. The judge will only issue the arrest warrant if the police have provided credible and specific evidence that you have committed a specific crime. The strength of the evidence does not have to be enough to secure a conviction (that is up to the jury to decide at your eventual trial if the case makes it that far), but it must be enough to justify criminal charges. Once the court has issued the warrant, the police may arrest you wherever they find you.

Police Can Arrest You Without a Warrant if They Catch You in the Act

If a police officer sees you committing a crime, he or she has the right to arrest you with or without a warrant. Therefore, many arrests arising from traffic stops do not involve warrants. If an officer pulls you over for a driving mistake, you appear drunk, and a breathalyzer test confirms this, that is reason enough to arrest you. Likewise, if a gas station owner calls the police about you buying drugs in the parking lot, and by the time the police arrive, you, your dealer, and the drugs are still there, they can likewise arrest you on the spot. Even if you get arrested, you still have the right to plead not guilty and to establish reasonable doubt about your guilt.

Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyer

A criminal defense lawyer can help you if you have been unfairly arrested. Contact the defense lawyers at Ghanayem & Rayasam in Atlanta, Georgia, about criminal defense cases.