The police have the power to arrest any person. The general rule is that the police must have a warrant of arrest before they can place you under arrest. A warrant of arrest is an order from the court and it is addressed to the police to find you and bring you to court in connection with a criminal charge where you stand accused or, you are named as a material witness.
A warrant of arrest will only be issued by the court if there is you have already been charged with an indictable offence and only if there is probable cause or sufficient evidence that shows that you have probably committed the indictable offence you are charged with. The police and the public prosecutor work together when applying for a warrant of arrest. They attach the written statements of witnesses and documents that show probable cause of your guilt. When the court is satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to hold you accountable for the indictable offence, then the court will issue a warrant of arrest.
There are instances, however, when the police are given the power and the authority to place you under arrest even when there is no warrant of arrest. This is when the police officer personally observes a driver violating traffic rules while operating his motor vehicle. The police officer will stop you on the side of the road and issue you a traffic violation notice.
In the event that the police stop you for a traffic violation and the police see telltale signs that you are driving under the influence of alcohol or any intoxicating substance, then the police can order you to take a breath analyzer test. If the breath analyzer test shows that your blood alcohol content is higher than the prescribed limit, the police will immediately place you under arrest.
Why will the police arrest you for having blood alcohol content that is higher than the prescribed limits when this is a summary offense, a mere violation of the traffic rules? The police will issue you a traffic violation notice but the police also have the mandate and the power to keep a drunk driver off the road for the safety of the driving public.
When the police have a well-founded and reasonable suspicion that you are about to commit, or you are committing or you have just committed an indictable offense, then the police can arrest you without a warrant. For instance, if during a police patrol, you are observed standing at a street corner and the police see you throw away a small plastic sachet as you turn and try to walk away briskly, your actions arouse a reasonable suspicion that you were committing the crime of possessing a regulated or prohibited drug.
When this happens, the police can stop you, ask you questions and even ask you to empty out your pockets. The police can also pick up the plastic sachet which they saw you throw away and they can examine it for the presence of a prohibited or regulated drug. If the police have sufficient foundation for their suspicion that you have just imbibed a prohibited or a regulated drug, or that you possessed it on your person, then you can be arrested right there and then even when there is no warrant for your arrest. You are in flagrante delicto or caught in the act of committing a crime and you can be arrested for it.
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Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.