When a crime occurs, police must often work quickly to follow the trail of evidence that may lead them to those who may have committed the crime. If officers show up at your door with a warrant for your arrest, it likely means that they and a judge in the Mississippi criminal court system have facts that indicate your involvement in the crime.
However, the process police use to obtain a warrant for your arrest has many opportunities for errors and misconduct. Even though police may have convinced a judge to sign an arrest warrant, you have every reason to fight the charges against you and build a strong defense strategy, beginning with examining the steps police took to get their warrant.
Obtaining a warrant
If police suspect you of involvement in a criminal act but did not witness the crime occurring, they cannot simply arrest you. To avoid violating your civil rights, they must follow a specific procedure the law provides for protecting the innocent from wrongful arrest. This process includes the following steps:
- Police must have evidence providing a reasonable belief that you may have been involved in committing a crime. This belief is probable cause.
- Police must present to a judge documented facts about the case and convince the judge that the facts add up to your involvement. This document is an affidavit and includes an oath affirming the truth of the facts.
- The affidavit must include specific details describing you and how police came to believe you committed the crime.
- If the judge agrees the evidence is convincing, he or she will sign the warrant, authorizing police to arrest you.
Arrest warrants often contain restrictions, such as the time and place where police may or may not make the arrest. If police violate these restrictions, the court may see it as a violation of your rights.
How true are the facts?
In some cases, police are anxious to make an arrest. Perhaps they fear you will leave town or destroy evidence if they don't arrest you quickly. An officer may withhold relevant information from the judge or embellish the evidence against you to get a warrant. Such a warrant may be invalid, which means your arrest may have been unlawful.
That is why it is critical that your attorney examine the affidavit, arrest warrant and circumstances surrounding your arrest to make sure police did not overstep their bounds. Having a legal advocate as soon as possible after your arrest may greatly benefit your case.