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Dimitry Esquire
Dimitry Esquire, Attorney
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 37135
Experience:  I provide general practice and mediation & arbitration services to my clients.
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Can a police officer make a warrantless arrest on a misdemeanor

Customer Question

Can a police officer make a warrantless arrest on a misdemeanor charge 4.5 hours after the alledged incident outside of his jurisdiction?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Dimitry Esquire replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for your question.

Could you explain the situation in greater detail?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
girlfriend was arrested by a city police officer for an alleged battery on her ex-husband's new girlfriend. The incident happened at a local little league baseball field. The victim reported it to the local police department. Approximately 4.5 hours later the city police officer who took the original incident report showed up at my girlfriend's house (in another county) and advised her she was under arrest. Police Officer did not have a warrant. My girlfriend briefly resisted and was also arrested for disorderly conduct and obstruction of police officer. Next day we filed complaint with PD. Later disorderly and obstruction charges were dropped because Officer did not have jurisdiction. I don't think any circumstances existed that allowed Officer to make an arrest without a warrant 4.5 hours after alledged incident outside his juridiction. Internal affairs investigation said arrest was valid because Officer had "immediate knowledge" of criminal act.
Expert:  Dimitry Esquire replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for your question.

The police are absolutely free to arrest after the fact. A vast majority of all arrests occur after the fact and not on scene. In addition, there may be an exception where the police officer can claim that the behavior of the suspect provided grounds under which to execute a lawful arrest, or if he was in "hot pursuit" of the suspect. In addition, the moment your girlfriend resisted, she did open herself up to a myriad of charges that could have been held against her. Luckily that did not take place. What did take place is defined below.

In Georgia, there is the right for a "discretionary arrest" (which is what the police officer used). Under Ga. Code Ann. § 17-4-20 a police officer can conduct an arrest:"
(a) An arrest for a crime may be made by a law enforcement officer either under a warrant or without a warrant if the offense is committed in such officer's presence or within such officer's immediate knowledge if the officer has probable cause to believe that an act of family violence has been committed."

Since the police officer followed the statute, the arrest is valid.

I am sorry.

Edited by Dimitry Alexander Kaplun on 8/5/2010 at 4:21 AM EST
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I've been told that no "exigent" circumstances existed and that Officer had plenty of time to go before a neutral magistrate and obtain a warrant. Victim knew alleged offender. No hot pursuit involved. No attempt to flee. Offender was at her long-time residence. Municipal police officer was 7.5 miles outside his jurisdiction. Not a "family violence" connection as defined by Ga. law. What does "immediate knowledge" mean? Anytime a police officer has an alleged victim he can arrest an alleged suspect even 4.5 hours later (misdemeanor)...I accept your answer and will pay, but wasn't sure if I should enter "Accept Answer" yet...Thanks
Expert:  Dimitry Esquire replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for your patience.

While he may have had plenty of time, notice that the statute does not require that from the police officer--the statute merely covers knowledge and not time. I do understand that this is not quite the news you hoped to hear, but I do suggest that you review the full statute at the link below to see if the police officer failed to follow the rules:

http://law.justia.com/georgia/codes/17/17-4-20.html

Good luck!

Edited by Dimitry Alexander Kaplun on 8/5/2010 at 4:40 AM EST
Dimitry Esquire, Attorney
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 37135
Experience: I provide general practice and mediation & arbitration services to my clients.
Dimitry Esquire and 3 other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for your response. I don't agree with you, but you are the expert. As I understand the Ga. family violence statute no "connection" exists between ex-wife and current girlfriend so the cited statute does not apply. I think we have a valid complaint, but I can't seem to articulate my argument well enough. I'm concerned about "immediate knowledge," "time lapse," "outside jurisdiction," "warrantless arrest,"lack of exigent circumstances," and a host of other issues with this arrest...Thank you for your opinion. I absolutely believe I am right, but I respect your expertise...Thanks again
Expert:  Dimitry Esquire replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for your patience.

If you do not mind, just to make sure that I have provided you with correct information, I will ask other experts to provide their thoughts, and possibly add their comments if they see that my information was incomplete or not quite correct--I would rather that you get correct information rather than simply "accept" my answer.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you...I realize $30.00 isn't much of a fee for an expert and I believe you have gone over and above your obligation to this matter...I will gladly accept anyone else's opinion also..Thank you
Expert:  Dimitry Esquire replied 3 years ago.
Not a problem--I have sent out emails to other experts who will respond upon review. To open the question to other experts, I will "opt out" and open this question to all other experts for you.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you again for your indulgence...I left out part that my girlfriend was injured during "unlawful" arrest and arrest occurred within her home in front of her three year old and five year old children while she was wearing only panties and t-shirt. Violation of 4th and 14th Amendment rights? She resisted (not fought) with same amount of force that was used against her. Remember: arrest was made by municipal police officer 7.5 miles outside his town (jurisdiction) in a different county four and a half hours after misdemeanor battery allegedly occurred. Thank you again Mr. Kaplun...
Expert:  N Cal Attorney replied 3 years ago.
Under the Magna Carta, an officer has power to arrest without a warrant for a misdemeanor only if the misdemeanor was committed in his immediate presence.

If he did not witness it, he just arrested based on hearsay and that is not legal unless it was a felony arrest.

I hope this information is helpful.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
While I certainly respect Mr. Kaplun's education and expertise, I guess maybe I am "expert shopping" to try and find someone who agrees with me. The limited info that I have found regarding "immediate knowledge" (as PD claims) doesn't seem to justify their actions...Alleged victim and 2 witnesses (both biased--my girlfriend's ex-mother-in-law and ex-husband) don't seem to give officer "immediate knowledge" and certainly not "immediate presence"...I strongly believe we (she) has basis for a claim for violation of her civil rights...Thank you for your reply...
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I don't believe that "immediate knowledge" means something that obviously biased witnesses tell a police officer authorizes law enforcement to effect a warrantless arrest 4.5 hours later outside their jurisdiction. This is AMERICA isn't it? We are talking about a misdemeanor arrest with no extenuating or aggravating circumstances. By the way, my girlfriend denies assault (battery) even occurred...Everything I seem to find on web deals with "time frame" as related to "immediate knowledge." This is partly what I'm basing my belief on as to why PO's actions were unjustified...
Expert:  N Cal Attorney replied 3 years ago.
Did the arresting officer personally witness the alleged crime or not?

To the extent the statute makes an exception for hearsay about family violence I believe it may be unconstitutional.

Exactly what charge was the person arrested for?

Edited by N Cal Attorney on 8/5/2010 at 7:13 AM EST
Expert:  FiveStarLaw replied 3 years ago.
Hello,

Mr Kaplun requested that I chime in.

Mr Kaplun is one of the best experts on this site. His position does have merit in a family violence situation however I believe that you are correct in this particular situation.

You have described a police officer who, absent any exigent circumstances or personal knowledge of the alleged incident, went outside of his jurisdiction and arrested your girlfriend 4 1/2 hours later without a warrant. He arrested her without allowing her to dress and with an inappropriate amount of force. In my opinion, the police officer abused his discretion and violated the U.S. Constitution and Georgia law.

Consider filing a formal complaint with the police department concerning this police officer. You may also consider retaining local counsel to file a civil action to recover damages.

Good luck
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thanks for your answer...I'm convinced we're right...We filed a formal complaint against the Police Officer. She rceived a letter from the PD a few days later stating the officer had been cleared of any wrongdoing because he was within his rights to make the arrest because he had "immediate knowledge" a crime had occurred....BS! He arrived at scene approximately 20 mins. After alleged assault ccurred and had 2 biased witnesses confirm the victim's story.... Thanks for your he'll...
Expert:  FiveStarLaw replied 3 years ago.
You are welcome. Best of luck and thank you in advance for your accept

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