Why an Officer Might Arrest You & What You Should Do

Why an Officer Might Arrest You & What You Should Do

In 2020, Robert Julian-Borchak Williams was arrested based on computer-generated facial recognition. During his stay in jail, it was clear the facial recognition software was wrong – officers arrested Mr. Williams for a crime he never committed. Law enforcement makes mistakes, so it’s crucial you know what to do if an officer apprehends you. The best way to know what to do is to understand why a police officer will arrest you and the steps you can take after your arrest.

Reasons Why an Officer Will Arrest You

As a general rule, a police officer can only detain you if they have probable cause – a reasonable belief for the criminal charge, based on facts and circumstances. While all forms of arrest include probable cause, the two main reasons for arrest are the officer observed you committing criminal activity or the law enforcement agency provides an arrest warrant.

Observation of a Crime

While rare, if an officer sees you commit a crime, they can make a lawful arrest. Most times, police officers observe crime during a routine traffic stop.

By federal law, an officer can only pull you over if they suspect your vehicle’s involvement in a particular case or you break a traffic state law. Therefore, they can write a citation or arrest you.

Law Enforcement Provides an Arrest Warrant

If cops arrest you, a police investigation preceded your apprehension, and you were deemed their top suspect. Proper criminal procedure states that an officer must show up at your residence or occupation and provide a warrant for your arrest. Once a judge signs a warrant, every police station in the country has access to it, and if you cross paths with them, they can arrest you.

Steps to Take After You’re Arrested

If an arrest occurs, you must understand your rights and the proper steps to follow.

When an arresting officer handcuffs a suspect, they must recite the Miranda Warning informing the person arrested of their rights–right to remain silent and right to an attorney. Afterward, take these steps:

Step 1: Immediately Request a Lawyer Once Taken Into Custody.

Under no circumstances should you speak, write, or provide any statements regarding the criminal arrest without counsel present.

Step 2: Make a Phone Call

Contact a responsible person who will pick up the phone and help you in your present situation.

Step 3: Calmly Return to Your Holding Cell

While in custody, wait for your legal authority to show up and request evidence to help you with the next steps.


Arrests are a scary thing, and adrenaline runs high. The most important thing to do in an officer’s presence is to remain calm and listen to him. As the person charged, whatever you do, do not resist. If a cop says you committed a crime, understand there must be probable cause and follow the steps outlined here. Call Hickey & Hull Law Partners when you request an attorney. We have experience in criminal law and can help you get back to your life.