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Drug crimes: What constitutes an unlawful arrest?

Any person who is unfamiliar with criminal law procedures in Florida may not know his or her constitutional rights during a search or arrest. The criminal justice process usually starts with an arrest, whether for alleged drug crimes or other criminal offenses. This is the process that involves a police officer exercising his or her authority over a suspect, and that person's submission -- voluntary or involuntary.

For an arrest to be legal, it must meet specific standards. The officer must have personally observed a person committing a crime, or seen illegal substances in the suspect's possession. Failing such observation, the arresting officer must have another form of probable cause. An example is an officer who receives a description of a suspect that committed an armed robbery and then sees somebody matching the description. If that person is searched and found in possession of significant amounts of cash and a weapon, the officer might have probable cause for an arrest.

If neither of the above circumstances exists, an arrest warrant will allow a police officer to execute an arrest. The warrant must identify the crimes that were allegedly committed, identify the suspect and specify the location at which the arrest may be made. Furthermore, the warrant must show that the officer is authorized to arrest the suspect. Separate rules exist with regard to the arrest process, such as reading the accused person's rights and more.

If a police officer arrests a person in Florida for allegedly committing drug crimes without valid authorization to make the arrest, or if the accused person's constitutional rights are otherwise violated, that person might have grounds to claim an unlawful arrest. An experienced criminal defense attorney can scrutinize the arrest procedures used and examine the lawfulness of the arrest. If grounds exist, the lawyer can assist with any ensuing procedures to achieve the best possible outcome.

Source: FindLaw, "Arrest", Accessed on Dec. 15, 2017

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