Unlike federal law, which more broadly allows officers to make warrantless arrests based on probable cause, Texas laws specify the circumstances when officers can make arrests without a warrant. Understanding these circumstances may better help Texas residents understand the limitations of their rights in police encounters. Knowing the scope of police power can also help Texas residents make smarter choices in their day-to-day actions to avoid undue arrest and imprisonment. There are seven primary types of arrests not requiring an arrest warrant.
On View Arrests: An officer can arrest an individual if the officer views that individual committing any crime in the officer’s presence or within the officer’s view. For an officer to use this type of arrest, the officer must view some part of the crime and play some role in the arrest.
Suspicious Places Arrests: an officer can arrest an individual found to be in a suspicious place and under circumstances, which reasonably show that the individual has been guilty of a felony or breach of the peace. Suspicious places arrests could also occur when an individual is found in a suspicious place and under circumstances that reasonably show that the individual is threatening to, or is about to, commit some offense against the laws. Suspicious places could include virtually anywhere, depending on the circumstances, including the suspect’s home, the suspect’s car, the vicinity of a recent crime scene, and even a hospital. See Texas Case Law.
Assault Arrests: If an officer has probable cause to believe a certain individual committed an assault, which caused bodily injury to another person, and the officer possesses probable cause to conclude there is danger of further bodily harm to the assaulted person, then the officer can arrest the individual in question. An example would be Mcclatchy v. State, where, even though the arresting officers did not witness the defendant assault the victim, because the officers saw and heard evidence of his prior assault, and had reason to believe the victim of the assault was in future danger, the officers were allowed to arrest the defendant without an arrest warrant.
Family Assault Arrests: When an officer has probable cause to believe, an individual committed a crime involving family violence, Texas law allows the officer to arrest that individual. When reasonably necessary for an officer verify an allegation of family violence, the officer must remain at the scene of the investigation to verify the allegation and to prevent further acts of family violence.
Violation of a Protective Order Arrests: An officer may arrest a person when the officer possesses probable cause to deduce the person committed an offense by violating a protective order, if the offense is committed outside the officer’s presence. If the offense by violation of a protective order is done within the officer’s presence, then the officer must arrest the suspected violator. When reasonably necessary, an officer must remain at the scene of investigation to verify a violation of a protective order.
Voluntary Statement Arrests: If an individual makes a statement that would be admissible against the individual at trial, and establishes probable cause for the officer to believer the person committed a felony, then the officer could arrest the person.
Felony Arrests: If an officer sees satisfactory proof and is informed by a credible person that an individual committed a felony, as well as believes that the offender is about to escape preventing the officer from obtaining an arrest warrant against the offender, then the officer can pursue and arrest the offender. For instance, in Fry v. State, a robbery victim’s report to officers that defendants had informed the victim they were departing Texas that day was sufficient to authorize warrantless arrest of defendants in their own home.
Texas law does offer protections from warrantless arrests by requiring such arrests to fall into certain categories for the arrests to be valid. If the arrest does not fall into a specific category, a court could deem the arrest as invalid, and weaken the overall case against the individual accused of a crime. Without the aid of an experienced criminal defense attorney, it is extremely challenging to determine whether one’s own arrest was valid. After an arrest, contacting a defense attorney may better ensure the protections of Texas law are afforded to you.
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Gilbert Garcia has been Passionately Pursuing Justice for over 30 years and founded The Gilbert G. Garcia Law Firm in 2008. The Gilbert G. Garcia Law Firm is a boutique law firm, specializing in Criminal Defense. Gilbert represents adults and juveniles accused of a crime and who have with a felony, misdemeanor or record cleaning case. Conveniently located on the courthouse square to serve Montgomery and Walker Counties. Gilbert became Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1989. The Gilbert G. Garcia Law Firm is located at 220 N. Thompson St., Suite 202, Conroe, TX 77301. www.ggglawfirm.com