More Warrantless Police Action
J.A.I.L. News Journal
Los Angeles - September 4, 2000
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____________________________________________________More Warrantless Police ActionLaw worries ACLU
Police can arrest without a warrant
August 28, 2000
GRAND RAPIDS -- A law that takes effect today will make it easier for Michigan police officers to make misdemeanor arrests.
The law will allow officers to make arrests for minor offenses without a warrant. Previously, such arrests were limited to more serious crimes such as murder.
Officers are being warned not to abuse their expanded authority, but civil rights advocates worry the law crosses the line.
Michael Steinberg, Michigan legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union, said he is concerned the law will be used to make searches that would otherwise call for search warrants.
"This will deprive citizens of liberty simply for being suspected of a petty crime," Steinberg said. ....
At Grand Rapids District Court, administrator Josef Soper said he expects the number of arrests -- and the burden on the court -- to rise.
"It will affect us if there is a drastic increase in the number of arraignments or appearance tickets," Soper said.
"If it means that any police officer can make an arrest based on the word of a citizen, I would expect the numbers will rise." .... ** Such a law as set forth above is clearly unconstitutional inasmuch as the Fourth Amendment provides, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." The key factor of the Fourth Amendment is the magisterial determination of reasonableness of the officer's actions in executing an arrest.Our Founding Fathers did not leave the question of reasonableness to an arresting officer's own actions to himself. As the U.S. Supreme Court has previously determined, if an officer may do without a warrant what he may do with a warrant, them why would an officer ever seek for a warrant? Such assertion would entirely circumvent the constitutional provision for the requirement of a warrant.The question of reasonableness of a arrest must be presented before a magistrate, and his determination of reasonableness for the issuance of the warrant must be supported by oath or affirmation, i.e. someone personal swearing out by oath as to the truthfulness of established facts, and being personally liable for the action taken, if false. An example of this was when the proprietor of a restaurant in California detained a man whom the proprietor claimed walked on the restaurant bill. Upon arrival, the police had no personal knowledge of the alleged crime, so properly required the proprietor to make a citizen's arrest and swear out the facts under oath, and then they acted only as a transporting agent.No police officer at any time may make a warrantless arrest. This is basic constitutional law. There is an exception, and that is exigent circumstances when life, limb, or property is in immanent danger that requires immediate action that may not feasibly await the issuance of a warrant. Even in such warrantless arrests the arrestee must be brought before a magistrate for the determination of the same standard probable cause under oath or affirmation as when the situation could await the issuance of the warrant. There can be no short cut.The logic of this is as follows. If you were away from home and a neighbor saw heavy black smoke pouring out the roof of your home, and called the fire department. Upon their arrival the fire department makes an initial judgment that there is a fire in the home. It would be silly to say they must go to a magistrate and swear out an oath for the issuance of a warrant in order to enter the home. While seldom ever challenged, it would be true that the homeowner could raise the issue before a magistrate that the fire department used the pretext of a conjured "fire emergency" to seek a warrantless search of their home.It should be pointed out here that there is no such thing as a general search or arrest warrant. A warrant must "particularly describe the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." A warrantless arrest must be limited to the immediate emergency action before the officer, as said, to the threat of life, liberty or property, which must later stand up to standard of the issuance of a warrant.-Ron Branson
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