The Warrantless Arrest in Westchester County

An Arrest without a Warrant in New York State

As a criminal defense attorney in White Plains, Westchester County I have experienced countless types of cases with countless factual situations and defenses. Clearly some defenses are more common then others but the top criminal defense lawyers know to start with the basics and then explore more complex defenses.

If the charge is for a DWI, drug possession, drug sale, assault, larceny, robbery, weapons possession, gun possession, white collar crime or any other type of serious offense everything starts with the arrest.

For this blog, I wanted to review the concept of an "arrest without a warrant". By having a good understanding of this initial concept my clients can better assist in their defense and have a greater understanding of the criminal procedure law.

Arrest without a Warrant

First, a warrant for an arrest is issued by a judge after law enforcement presents their case to a Judge for review. In Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Orange and Dutchess Counties this includes the local court judges in the local towns or villages or county court judges.

If there is no arrest warrant a police officer does have authority to make a warrantless arrest under Criminal Procedure Law section 140.10(1). An officer may make an arrest without a warrant when the officer has reasonable cause to believe that a person has committed such a crime whether or not in his presence. Reasonable cause is the same legal standard as probable cause found under the Fourth amendment of the United States Constitution.

Probable Cause & Reasonable Cause

Now that we understand that reasonable cause and probable cause are the same legal standard, what exactly is reasonable cause in New York State?

Under the Criminal Procedure Law, Reasonable Cause in the context of an arrest exists when law enforcement has cause to believe that a person has committed an offense when evidence or information which appears reliable discloses facts or circumstances which are collectively of such a weight and persuasiveness as to convince a person of ordinary intelligence, judgment and experience that it is reasonably likely that such offense was committed and that such person committed it (CPL 70.10(2)).

How do Courts View an Arrest without a Warrant?

Courts generally exercise a higher level of scrutiny when reviewing reasonable cause determinations made by the police without a warrant than when reviewing determinations made by a detached and neutral judge. For this reason the top criminal defense lawyers in every type of criminal case will look to the sufficiency of the reasonable cause to arrest when formulating a defense strategy.

When the police determine reasonable cause to arrest does that suspect have to be arrested right away?

No, a police officer is not required to obtain an arrest warrant from a judge as long as the officer has the requisite reasonable cause. A police officer who possess reasonable cause to arrest a suspect in Westchester County, New York can supply that information to another officer in another county or an out of state officer to make an arrest.

When is an Arrest an Arrest?

Any conduct by police officers which is intrusive to the extent that a reasonable, innocent person would believe himself to be under arrest constitutes an arrest.

Police must make an arrest only with reasonable (probable) cause.

For Example, in the Harrison Justice Court (Westchester County), I conducted a pretrial hearing at the Harrison Court arguing that SUNY Purchase Police Officers made a DWI arrest without probable cause. In that case officers were circling a parking lot while it was raining and notice three people in the vehicle (perhaps trying to stay dry). The officers blocked the vehicle in a parking space and converged on the vehicle. Because the police action of surrounding the vehicle constituted an arrest it was determined that this action was not based upon probable cause. Therefore, the client was improperly arrested and all evidence stemming from the arrest was suppressed.

If you or a loved one is has been arrested call the law offices of Proto, Sachs & Brown, LLP for afree consultation.

At our office we take the time necessary to explain all of your options, legal strategy and offer you advice so you can make the best decision about your case.

We will always be available to answer your questions and meet with you. We explain the entire legal process so you have a full understanding of the case.

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