On television, we often see a person getting arrested - the officer cuffs them, reads their rights to them, and off to the jail they go. But, we rarely see police handing someone an arrest warrant before they take them into custody.
Whether police need a warrant before they arrest you depends on the circumstances - sometimes they need to have a warrant signed by a judge. Other times, they can take you into custody and then get the warrant signed.
In other cases, police can use a "blue ticket," or "uniform traffic ticket" instead of an arrest warrant. Below, we will look at each of these situations, when police need a warrant to arrest someone, and when a uniform traffic ticket is enough.
Do Police Need a Warrant to Arrest for a Felony or a Misdemeanor?
Whether police need a warrant before arresting someone depends, in part, on whether the offense is a felony or a misdemeanor and whether the offense is one that SC law allows to be written on a uniform traffic ticket (UTT) instead of a warrant.
Do Police Need a Warrant to Arrest Me for a Felony?
SC Code Section 22-3-710 says:
All proceedings before magistrates in criminal cases shall be commenced on information under oath, plainly and substantially setting forth the offense charged, upon which, and only which, shall a warrant of arrest issue.
Except for criminal charges that can be brought with a uniform traffic ticket (UTT), an officer must submit an affidavit to the magistrate or municipal judge that details the facts giving rise to probable cause for the arrest.
The warrant affidavit is usually then incorporated into the arrest warrant itself, although an officer can also give supplemental testimony to the magistrate under oath.
But, does that mean police must get the warrant before making the arrest?
Do Police Always Need to Get the Warrant Before Making a Felony Arrest?
If a police officer witnesses a felony (or a larceny) being committed, or if the officer has reliable information that a felony has been committed, the officer can arrest the suspect and then apply for a warrant from the magistrate.
Under SC Code Section 17-13-30, sheriffs and deputy sheriffs can arrest any person if they see the person commit a crime:
The sheriffs and deputy sheriffs of this State may arrest without warrant any and all persons who, within their view, violate any of the criminal laws of this State if such arrest be made at the time of such violation of law or immediately thereafter.
Technically, the criminal proceedings don't begin until the warrant has been signed by a magistrate, but the law does not require an officer to leave a crime scene, go get a warrant, and then return to make an arrest.
What if the officer doesn't actually see the crime being committed, but they have the suspect and there is reliable information that the suspect committed a crime? In this case, it depends on whether the alleged crime is a felony, a misdemeanor, or a larceny (theft).
Under SC Code Section 17-13-10, any person can make a citizen's arrest if they see a felony being committed or have information that a felony has been committed, and this applies to police officers as well as any other person:
Upon (a) view of a felony committed, (b) certain information that a felony has been committed or (c) view of a larceny committed, any person may arrest the felon or thief and take him to a judge or magistrate, to be dealt with according to law.
Technically, the criminal proceedings don't begin until the warrant has been signed by a magistrate, but, in most cases, the law does not require an officer to leave a crime scene, go get a warrant, and then return to make an arrest.
Do Police Need a Warrant to Arrest Me for a Misdemeanor?
If a police officer witnesses any misdemeanor being committed, they can take the suspect into custody pursuant to Section 17-13-30 and apply for the warrant or write a uniform traffic ticket after the arrest is made.
Also, under SC Code Section 56-7-10 (B), if the alleged offense was "freshly committed," the officer can issue a UTT and arrest the suspect:
(B) In addition to the offenses contained in subsection (A), a uniform traffic ticket may be used in an arrest for a misdemeanor offense within the jurisdiction of magistrates court that has been freshly committed or is committed in the presence of a law enforcement officer.
SC Code Section 56-17-15 also permits officers to use a UTT to make an arrest for a misdemeanor either "freshly committed" or committed in the officer's presence:
(A) The uniform traffic ticket, established pursuant to the provisions of Section 56-7-10, may be used by law enforcement officers to arrest a person for an offense that has been freshly committed or is committed in the presence of a law enforcement officer if the punishment is within the jurisdiction of magistrates court and municipal court.
If the offense is a misdemeanor that cannot be written on a UTT, the offense was not "freshly committed," and the officer did not witness the misdemeanor being committed, the officer must apply for an arrest warrant from a magistrate or municipal judge and then make the arrest.
When Can Police Use a Uniform Traffic Ticket (UTT) to Arrest Me?
Police can use a uniform traffic ticket (UTT) to make an arrest for:
- Traffic offenses;
- Offenses that are listed in SC Code Section 56-7-10 (A); or
- Misdemeanors that are committed in their presence or "freshly committed."
Some of the more common offenses that are listed in 56-7-10(A) include:
- Indecent exposure;
- Disorderly conduct;
- Open container;
- Minor in possession of alcohol;
- Malicious injury to personal property;
- Trespass; and
- Domestic violence.
Can Police Arrest Me Outside of Their Jurisdiction?
In most cases, a police officer can make an arrest outside of their jurisdiction only if a private citizen would have been authorized to make the same arrest.
Outside of their jurisdiction, a police officer can make a "citizen's arrest" in the daytime if:
- The officer witnesses a felony or larceny being committed (SC Code Section 17-13-10); or
- Has information that a felony has been committed (SC Code Section 17-13-10).
In the nighttime, under SC Code Section 17-13-20, an officer can make a citizen's arrest outside of their jurisdiction if the suspect:
- Has committed a felony;
- Has entered a dwelling house without express or implied permission;
- Has broken or is breaking into an outhouse with a view to plunder;
- Has in his possession stolen property; or
- Being under circumstances which raise just suspicion of his design to steal or to commit some felony, flees when he is hailed.
Under SC Code Section 17-13-40, If a police officer is chasing someone and they leave the officer's jurisdiction, they can continue the pursuit and make the arrest if:
- For a municipal (city) police officer, the arrest is made within three miles of city limits; or
- For sheriff's deputies or county officials, the arrest is made within an adjoining county.
If you have been arrested and charged with a crime in Myrtle Beach, SC, your defense lawyer will get all evidence in your case, including reports, witness statements, and video from any traffic stops. We will look for any circumstances that would allow us to get your case dismissed, exclude evidence that was obtained illegally, or win your case in a jury trial whenever possible.