An arrest takes place when a law enforcement officer takes an individual into custody to question them about a crime or offense. In Mississippi, a citizen may also arrest a person if the citizen witnesses a crime or sees a suspect attempting to escape. Arrested individuals, however, possess important rights.
Law enforcement procedures
Police must comply with certain procedures. Knowing your constitutional and legal rights when you are arrested may be an important part of your criminal defense.
Law enforcement should possess an arrest warrant. This is an order, issued by a judge, authorizing officers or agents to make an arrest. However, a warrant in unnecessary if there is an ongoing crime, a suspect is trying to escape, or the absence of a warrant would cause a justice failure.
A law enforcement officer may stop and question an individual, with sufficient reason, in a public place. Police can also ask a person to get out of their vehicle while investigating a traffic offense or other offense. The officer may question that individual, but the suspect has the right to refuse to answer their questions.
While making an arrest, the officer is allowed to search the suspect, any articles they are carrying and the immediate area around the suspect. A search warrant authorizes the officer to search a certain place for certain items identified in the warrant.
If a person refuses to admit the police into a structure or nobody answers the door, the officer may break into the structure and engage in the search. Police must provide an inventory of any items they seized if requested.
A law enforcement officer must advise a person taken into custody of these rights:
- To remain quiet
- To telephone their lawyer or their family
- To be informed that anything they say can and will be used against them in court
- That they may request an attorney’s presence during police questioning or a line up
- That the court will appoint an attorney to represent them if they cannot afford one
A suspect can waive these rights and make a statement. But they may also exercise their right to silence even after making statements and may request to speak to an attorney after their initial waiver.
Dos and don’ts
Suspects should not use force against a law enforcement officer, flee or prevent a search. Suspects should point out possible rights violations and later inform their attorney.
Suspects should never lie to law enforcement. They may firmly but politely object to a search and state their right to remain silent.
Anything that happens during an arrest can have serious and long-term consequences.
Attorneys can help individuals protect their rights and defend against criminal charges.