Is it Lawful for the Salt Lake City Police to Arrest You without a Warrant?

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“In Utah, police officers need a warrant to place you under arrest.”  Do you think that statement is true or false?  Salt Lake City criminal lawyer Darwin Overson explains when it is legal for the Salt Lake City Police Department or other police departments in Utah to arrest a criminal suspect without a warrant.

Do the Police Need a Warrant to Arrest You for DUI in Utah?

There are many misconceptions about what police officers are and aren’t allowed to do.  Unfortunately, these myths can end up hurting citizens who are placed under arrest.

For example, if a person falsely believes that they cannot be arrested, they can wind up incriminating themselves and making their legal situation worse.  In other situations, innocent citizens comply with orders that are actually unlawful and infringe upon their Constitutional rights, all because they aren’t familiar with the standards police are required to follow.

There is lots of confusion about when and why an officer can lawfully place a person under arrest in Utah.  For example, it’s a common misconception that police officers need an arrest warrant to arrest someone.  However, this is not actually true.  There are several situations where no arrest warrant is needed.

For example, a police officer does not need a warrant to arrest you for drunk driving if the officer has probable cause.  One of Utah’s DUI statutes, Utah Code § 41-6a-508, provides the following explanation:

“A peace officer may, without a warrant, arrest a person for a [DUI] violation… when the peace officer has probable cause to believe the violation has occurred, although not in the peace officer’s presence, and if the peace officer has probable cause to believe that the violation was committed by the person.”

In other words, a police officer can arrest you for drugged or drunk driving, even if the officer doesn’t have a warrant for your arrest, if the officer has probable cause to:

  • Believe that a violation occurred.
  • Believe that you were the person who committed the violation.

Probable Cause: When Can an Officer Arrest You for a Misdemeanor or Felony in Utah?

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Though the statute above is DUI-focused, intoxicated driving isn’t the only offense where no arrest warrant is necessary when probable cause exists.  The Utah Code of Criminal Procedure, which describes how and when arrests can be made, lists some broad situations where officers can legally arrest a person without getting a warrant first.

These situations are described under Utah Code § 77-7-2.  To give a few examples from the statute, a Utah police officer can arrest someone without a warrant if the officer:

  1. Witnesses a person in the process of committing or attempting to commit a crime.
  2. Has probable cause to believe that:
    • A felony or Class A misdemeanor, which is the most serious type of misdemeanor under Utah’s laws, was committed.
    • The person being arrested is the person who committed the felony or Class A misdemeanor.
  3. Has probable cause to believe that the person committed a crime, including a Class B or C misdemeanor, if there is also probable cause to believe that the person to be arrested will:
    • Flee or go into hiding.
    • Hide or destroy evidence of the offense leading to the arrest.
    • Injure someone.
    • Damage someone’s property.

Many offenses can have different classifications depending on the circumstances.  For example, assault can be a Class B or Class A misdemeanor, depending on how badly the victim was injured and whether the victim was known to be pregnant at the time of the assault.

Contact a Salt Lake City Criminal Defense Lawyer if a Family Member Was Arrested

Even though police officers don’t always need arrest warrants in order to make an arrest, they do have to obey the law, and they do have to respect your Constitutional rights.  Every last detail of a person’s arrest and detention should be examined under a microscope.  If the arresting officer conducted any aspect of the arrest improperly, it may be possible to have your case dismissed.

If you suspect that a family member’s legal rights were violated during an arrest or interrogation, or if you think your loved one was a victim of police brutality or misconduct, you should talk a criminal defense lawyer immediately.  An experienced Utah criminal attorney, like Darwin Overson of Overson Law, can review your case and fight to show that the police did not have probable cause to arrest you or your loved one.  Darwin is also available to make jail visits to county jails throughout Utah if:

If your loved one was arrested by the Salt Lake City Police Department, or was arrested by the Utah Highway Patrol, they need legal counsel as soon as possible.  They may have been falsely arrested.  Call the law offices of Overson Law right away at (801) 758-2287 to talk about your family member’s situation in a free, completely confidential legal consultation.