For most misdemeanor offenses in California, a police officer can only make an arrest of a suspect without a warrant if the offense was committed in the officer’s presence. If a felony is suspected, officers can arrest people based upon witness statements, or where a warrant for the person’s arrest has been issued.

IF I AM ARRESTED, CAN THE POLICE SEARCH ME? The police have the authority to perform a search of a suspect and his immediate surroundings, “incident” to the arrest of the suspect. For example, if the police arrest a person in Irvine who was driving a car, they generally have the authority to search the entire passenger compartment of the car – and will usually also be able to search other passengers for weapons. The constitutional justification for this is found in the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. Then, if the car is impounded, the police may perform an “inventory search” of the entire car– including the contents of the trunk.

Comments about this post can be directed to Irving Criminal Defense Attorney William Weinberg at (949) 474-8008.