In many cases, an arrest – with or without a warrant – or the filing of a criminal complaint will initiate the criminal proceedings in a court case. In cases involving misdemeanor offenses, the police may initiate a criminal proceeding against a person by serving a complaint and summons via mail rather than a formal arrest. The summons will direct the individual to appear for a preliminary hearing at a specific time and place.
During an arrest, a member of law enforcement takes the accused into custody. Once in custody, the individual is typically processed or “booked.” At that point, information about the individual and the reason for the arrest is recorded. Please be aware and consider that everything said to the police by an arrestee will be considered a statement and can be used against them by the Commonwealth to secure a conviction. Palissery Law Offices strongly recommends the arrestee to remain silent and request an attorney.
Process may also include fingerprinting, a mug shot, a body search, and the confiscation of personal items. If the arrest is a result of minor charges, the accused may be released and summoned to return to court at a later date. In other cases, the individual will be held until preliminary arraignment after which they may be released on bail.
For an arrest to be considered legal, one of the following must take place:
- The arresting officer personally observes the suspect committing a crime.
- An officer has probable cause to make an arrest
- A warrant for the arrest has been issued.
The United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions provide individuals with a series of protective rights that must be afforded by all law enforcement personnel. These rights include protections against unlawful searches and seizures, the right against self-incrimination , the right to an attorney, due process of law, and other important rights. For instance, if an arrest results in an interrogation, whether on-spot or at a police station, the arresting officer is required to read the accused their Miranda rights.