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What Is a Criminal Arrest?

Before criminal court proceedings can begin, the accused party must be charged and arrested, in no particular order, before a judge. To begin prosecution, a criminal arrest is made to ensure the presence of the suspect or defendant during the court proceedings and for the party to have the ability to respond to the charges brought against him or her.

A judge first issues an arrest warrant when evidence is brought to him or her of the crime committed by the accused party. However, a warrant is not necessarily needed to make all criminal arrests. A police officer may arrest an individual on criminal charges during an emergency situation, or a citizen may conduct a citizen’s arrest if absolutely necessary.

A criminal arrest does not necessarily prove that the accused is guilty of the charges he or she faces. An arrest is done on the basis of suspicion for the most part rather than absolute, conclusive proof. After an arrest is conducted, the accused party attends an arraignment where he or she may discover what charges are being filed against him or her. If such charges cannot hold up within a certain time period or if the accused party is wrongly suspected of the crime, then the defendant must be released from police custody. If an accused is found to be liable for the criminal charges against him or her, a bail may be posted and a court trial is set for a later date.

Even if a person is found not to be guilty, an arrest is permanently recorded on an individual’s police record.

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