Do Police Need a Warrant to Arrest Me?

What is an Arrest Warrant?

An arrest warrant is an official document, signed by a judge (or magistrate), which authorizes a police officer to arrest the person or people named in the warrant. To obtain a warrant, a police officer typically submits a written affidavit to a judge or magistrate. Arrest warrants are most commonly required when a crime is committed out of view of a police officer. Once a warrant is issued, you may be arrested.

So, Do Police Need a Warrant to Arrest You?

The simple answer is “no.” Below is a discussion about when the police may arrest someone without a warrant.

Who Can Be Arrested If Police Do Not Have a Warrant?

Title 17, Chapter 13 of the South Carolina Code of Laws states several situations where someone can be arrested without warrant. This includes:

  • When the crime is freshly committed.
  • An officer who witnesses a person commits a misdemeanor within his jurisdictional limits may arrest without a warrant, but he must witness the criminal act first-hand.
  • When an officer has probable cause to believe that a suspect has committed a felony, the officer may arrest without a warrant regardless of whether the criminal act was done in the officer’s presence

For example, if an officer is at a convenience store and someone comes in with a gun and tries to rob the store, that officer can immediately arrest the person they see committing the crime. The officer does not need to wait until a warrant has been issued.

Warrantless arrests are generally allowed if probable cause exists, except that an officer cannot arrest someone for a misdemeanor committed outside the officer’s presence unless an arrest warrant is obtained.

Any person being arrested in South Carolina without an arrest warrant must be brought before a judge as quickly as possible so that the judge may issue an arrest warrant, if proper.

When are Warrants Issued for an Arrest?

There are cases where warrants are issued for an arrest. In these cases, officers rely on a sworn affidavit outlining the alleged criminal offenses. The affidavit is then presented to a judge, who can decide whether issue a warrant for the arrest of the person named in the testimony. Bench warrants can also be issued for the arrest of those who fail to pay court fines or miss a court date.

Sometimes people do not even know there is a warrant out for their arrest. Police officers have stopped people for simple traffic violations and found, after running their name through a database, that the traffic offender has a warrant out for their arrest. The drivers then find themselves unexpectedly under arrest!

Get Assistance When You Are Arrested

Whether you are arrested during the alleged commission of a crime or a warrant has been issued for your arrest, you undoubtedly will have a lot of questions and concerns about what happens next. Thurmond Kirchner & Timbes P.A. offers free consultations to discuss your case as soon as possible. We can help you navigate this scary and confusing situation while protecting your best interests. Contact Thurmond Kirchner & Timbes, P.A. to consult with one of our criminal defense lawyers.