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Warrantless Arrests in Texas

You’ve probably heard about arrest warrants; often, a judge or magistrate issues an arrest warrant when someone fails to appear in court as required, or when the state has enough evidence against a suspect to seek an arrest through an arrest warrant. But what about warrantless arrests, when are those legal?

Under Title 1, Chapter 14 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, it explains when it’s legal to make an arrest without a warrant. Generally, a warrantless arrest can be made in the following situations:

  • When an offense is committed within view of a police officer. Under Art. 14.01, a police officer can arrest someone if they committed an offense against the public peace, or a felony within the officer’s view or in the officer’s presence.
  • When an offense is committed in the presence of or within the view of a magistrate and the magistrate gives verbal orders for a peace officer to make an arrest.

Art. 14.03 outlines the authority of peace officers. Under Art. 14.03(a), it says that any peace officer can arrest someone without a warrant if the suspect is in a suspicious place under suspicious circumstances that indicate the individual may have: 1) committed a felony, 2) breached the peace, 3) violated a family violence protective order, or 4) when the suspect is about to break a law.

In addition to the above, peace officers can arrest someone who the officer has probable cause to believe committed family violence, such as spousal abuse or child abuse, or violated a protective order regardless if it was in the officer’s presence.

Under Article 14.03(d), peace officers can arrest people even when they’re out of their jurisdiction. Under Art. 14.03(d) it says, “A peace officer who is outside his jurisdiction may arrest, without warrant, a person who commits an offense within the officer’s presence or view” as long as it’s a breach of the public peace or a felony. In conclusion, police officers have a lot of freedom to initiate warrantless arrests; however, there are situations where the legality of an arrest can be challenged in court.

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