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Can I Get Arrested at Home?

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By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on April 25, 2016 12:59 PM

You may feel safe at home, but it's not actually an arrest-free zone. The basis for an arrest is probable cause, and police can have probable cause to arrest a person pretty much anywhere, depending on the activities observed or whether they have a warrant, and other factors.

The question then is not the location of an arrest but the basis for it. Let's examine probable cause and consider how you could get busted at home.

Probable Cause

The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution governs probable cause. It provides as follows: "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."

This paragraph protects people from overzealous authorities but it doesn't require that every arrest be supported by a warrant. An officer may have probable cause for an arrest based on observed suspicious behaviors, witness and informant information, or even circumstantial evidence that a crime has occurred.

The probable cause determination can be challenged in court by the defense later, after the defendant is charged, and a judge may find that there was insufficient cause for an arrest. Evidence acquired without probable cause is inadmissible.

Police make decisions based on what is happening in the streets, but a judge may see things differently from the distance of a courtroom and in the context of the law. Not all arrests are legal but if you're arrested illegally, your defense attorney will have to raise, argue, and prove this point.

Arrest at Home

An officer can arrest you at home with a warrant. Even this can be challenged in court and you may later file a motion suppressing it and any evidence arising from your illegal arrest if you show there was not probable cause for the warrant's issuance.

But you can also be arrested at home if you are causing a disturbance and not responsive to requests to quiet down and seem to be involved in criminal behavior. If the sounds emitting from your house indicate a crime might be taking place, you are not really more safe from arrest at home than elsewhere.

The beauty of your home is that it shields you from observation, and you can do pretty much whatever you want as long as you don't bother anybody. But if your activities arouse suspicions in others and reasonably so, and this is conveyed to the police, who agree, you can certainly get busted at home.

Accused?

If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, in your home or anywhere else, talk to a lawyer today. Don't delay. Many criminal defense attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to assess your case.

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