It can be an extremely stressful event when the police arrest you, even under normal circumstances. The situation is much worse when you suspect that the police didn’t have the authority to arrest you, or that the circumstances didn’t justify your arrest. In cases like these, can you sue for wrongful arrest?
When police officers can legally arrest you
Typically, police officers without a valid arrest warrant need probable cause in order to stop and arrest someone. Probable cause means that the police officer has a reasonable belief, based on observable facts, that the person they are arresting has violated the law. They cannot base this belief on a mere hunch or speculation.
The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure outlines specific examples of when police officers can legally arrest someone without an arrest warrant. For example, they can carry out an arrest if they witness you committing a crime, if they find you in a suspicious place that reasonably leads them to believe that you committed a crime, or if you admit to a crime in their presence.
What if my arrest didn’t fit into any of these categories?
In order to win a lawsuit for wrongful arrest, your attorney will have to be able to prove that the arresting officer lacked both a valid arrest warrant and probable cause when they arrested you.
In other words, you will be trying to prove that your behavior and the circumstances surrounding the arrest were not sufficient to give the police officer a reasonable belief that your arrest was necessary, but that they arrested you anyway.
The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution protects you from unreasonable searches and seizures – which includes arrests made without proper probable cause. Thus, if you can successfully prove that your arrest was improper, you can win your case on the grounds that the police officer violated your constitutional rights.
The Constitution grants us sacred rights that protect us from overreach from everyone – including the police. If you or someone you know suffers a wrongful arrest, do not hesitate to seek justice for yourself.