Police Actions During an Arrest: Probable Cause and Miranda Rights

During an arrest, the police are expected to follow strict guidelines and legal procedures to ensure they uphold citizens’ constitutional rights.

The largest of these checks takes place even before an arrest takes place. To take someone into custody, the arresting officer must first have probable cause. Probable cause exists when the facts and circumstances of the situation would prompt any reasonable person to believe that the suspect was partaking in some sort of criminal behavior.

Probable cause may not be based on mere suspicion, but rather must stem from concrete facts. An officer may not arrest someone unless they have fulfilled the probable cause standard. If they apprehend someone without doing so, the arrest as a whole may be challenged.

In addition to establishing probable cause, officers are required by the 1996 Supreme Court case Miranda vs Arizona to read the suspect their Miranda rights. The declaration of Miranda rights upon arrest is designed to protect the right to freedom from self-incrimination as outlined in the fifth amendment of the constitution. The Miranda rights are read as follows:

  • You have the right to remain silent and to refuse to answer questions.
  • Anything you say may be used against you in a court of law.
  • You have the right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning now or in the future.
  • If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish.
  • If you decide to answer questions now without an attorney present, you will still have the right to stop answering at any time until you talk to an attorney.

Once the arrest is complete and these rights are recited, the police officer has the authority to perform a thorough search of the suspect’s body and immediate surroundings for any clues that might indicate the evidence of a crime. They reserve the right to confiscate and secure any personal items after performing an inventory search.

  1. Police Actions During an Arrest: Probable Cause and Miranda Rights
  2. The Booking and Post-Booking Process
  3. Getting Legal Help

The Booking Process

It is at this point that the suspect will be transported to jail where they will begin the booking process. During booking, they will be asked to provide basic personal information, a fingerprint, and a photograph.

The Post-Booking Process

Following the appropriate arresting and booking procedure, the suspect’s case information is handed over to the prosecutor’s office where a final, independent decision will be made as to what charges, if any, will be brought against them. The post-booking process also offers constitutional protections with the right to a speedy trial, meaning that the prosecutor has 72 hours, or 48 in some states, to file any charges against the suspect.

The next step of the process, known as arraignment, requires the suspect to stand before a judge and enter a plea of either guilt, not guilty, or no contest.

  1. Police Actions During an Arrest: Probable Cause and Miranda Rights
  2. The Booking and Post-Booking Process
  3. Getting Legal Help

Getting Legal Help

It remains vital that suspects understand the criminal defense process, beginning with the arrest and booking stages. More importantly, however, it is important that people understand the rights they have during the arrest process. If you have been arrested, it is important that you reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney who is familiar with the processes of the criminal justice system and can advise you on what your next steps should look like. Our team at Spolin Law works to address any legal errors that have been made throughout the criminal court process, from arrest and booking to trial proceedings. To learn more about the work we do and the services we offer, be sure to call us at (866) 617-7158 with any post-conviction questions you may have.