An arrest is generally defined as when someone uses legal authority to deprive another person of their freedom of movement such as by handcuffing or holding someone or locking them in a space to confine them. Often, arrests are made by the police but anyone can make an arrest.

For an arrest to be lawful, the person making the arrest needs to have probable cause to believe that the person they are arresting has committed an offense. Probable cause, generally, is a reasonable belief, based on the facts and circumstances, that a person is guilty of a particular offense. Arrests can be made with or without a warrant.

New York

In New York encounters with the police, the Court of Appeals, in People v. De Bour, identified 4 authorized levels of police intrusion on an escalating scale.

  1. The officer may ask for ID, reason for being at a particular place, travel plans as long as supported by a objective, credible reason for asking
  2. The officer may ask questions beyond identity and travel plans but cannot detain you however this must be supported by founded suspicion that criminal activity happened or is about to happen
  3. The officer may detain you against your will but this must be supported by a reasonable suspicion that a particular person has committed or is about to commit a crime.
  4. The officer may arrest you if there is probable cause to believe that you committed a crime (felony, misdemeanor, or offense)

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