The question whether which authority officer or agent should have the right to make arrest without prior warrant is indeed a complex one. It demands deeper consideration and analysis given the responsibility of the administration to keep balance between the rights of individuals and state. In case of arrest without warrant, it becomes incumbent on the officer not to leave a margin for error or will it only result in the backfire.
We have a case in point. The chief police officer of Dallas, North Carolina carried out an arrest without warrant of person allegedly involved in the act of public drunkenness in his presence.
However, the defendant refused to accept officer’s claim and confronted him psychically until he was sent to jail. The trial began with defendant charged with the cases of assault and public drunkenness. But the police officer could not substantiate his claim with ample and prima facie evidence. The final verdict did not favor the police officer.
The Text of Fourth Amendment and its interpretation
According to the text of the fourth Amendment, people enjoy the right of being secure in their positions, houses against all unreasonable searches and seizures but upon probable cause substantiated by oath or affirmation the persons or things can be seized into police custody without prior warrant.
This is not to say that every search, seizure and arrest can be made without warrant. At this point it is necessary to consider the ruling of Supreme Court according to which the arrest without warrant should comply with the Fourth Amendment and the reason should be reasonable and cogent enough to persuade the magistrate or judge in the court.
In case, the requirement for the police officer to seek warrant is made mandatory before making every arrest it will not only affect and hinder the duties of police officers but also result in the destruction of evidence, the disappearances of suspects and witnesses or both.
The ruling of the Supreme Court in this regard has made an attempt to keep balance between the practical responsibilities and activities of police work and the privacy and freedom of the public. To make an arrest for felony in a public area does not require warrant even if the officer has time to secure a warrant.
But the officer must have a probable cause to ascertain that the suspect has committed the crime. Any misdemeanor committed in the presence of officer also goes warrantless according to the Fourth Amendment.
Secondly, the officer does not need warrant to conduct searches for a lawful arrest as the Fourth Amendment make allowances for the officer to carry out search of the person’s clothing and all other areas within the reach of suspect.(Wayne and Jerorld 2001)
Nevertheless, the law also protects the citizens from the misconduct made by a police officer. The exclusionary rule allows courts to keep out incriminating evidence from the initial proceedings of the case upon proof that the evidence was procured after a breach of constitutional framework. Even the evidence is put forth and the jury decides to convict, the defendant has the right to challenge court’s decision.
Wayne R. LaFave, Jerold H. Israel, and Nancy J. King,(2001) “Criminal Procedure” West Group, 2001.