§ 9.02 Arrests: Common Law and Statutory Arrest Rules

JurisdictionNorth Carolina
§ 9.02 Arrests: Common Law and Statutory Arrest Rules

At common law, a police officer could not arrest a person for an offense unless the officer had reasonable grounds to believe that a crime had been committed and that the person to be arrested committed it.8 The common law term "reasonable grounds" is equivalent to the constitutional term "probable cause."9

Today, most statutes10 provide that the police may make a felony arrest without a warrant. However, a warrant is required for a misdemeanor arrest unless the offense occurs in the officer's presence.11 Furthermore, warrantless arrests in some circumstances are unconstitutional, notwithstanding common law and statutory precedent.12



[8] See generally Joshua Dressler, Understanding Criminal Law § 21.02[A][1] (6th ed. 2012).

[9] Draper v. United States, 358 U.S. 307, 310 n.3 (1959).

[10] See, e.g., Cal. Penal Code § 836 (2012).

[11] For the common law meaning of the phrase "in the presence," see 3 Wayne R. LaFave, Search and Seizure § 5.1(c) (4th ed. 2004).

[12] See generally § 9.05, infra.

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