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How are Arrests Made in Texas?


If you, or someone you love was recently arrested in Texas you may be thinking, “Hey, this arrest wasn’t fair” or “The arrest wasn’t legal!” If you are suspicious of the arrest, we are going to shed some light on the subject and explain under what circumstances an arrest can be made in the Lone Star State.

Generally, a police officer cannot arrest a person and take them into custody unless they have an arrest warrant, but there are exceptions. In Texas, a law enforcement officer can legally make a “warrantless” arrest when:

  • The offender committed a crime in the presence of the law enforcement officer, or
  • The offense was committed “outside” of the officer’s view, but under circumstances that the officer has reason to be suspicious, for example, there is probable cause to believe the person just caused an assault, such as an act of family violence (e.g. spousal abuse or child abuse).

You may have heard of a “citizen’s arrest” in the movies or on TV; they are real. Under Texas law, a private citizen has the right to arrest an offender without a warrant when the offender commits a crime in the citizen’s presence, providing the offense is against the public peace or a felony.

For example, if you catch someone plow into a parked vehicle and then stumble out of their car with a strong odor of alcohol on their breath, you can technically make a “citizen’s arrest” for DWI and call the police. You can detain the person until the police arrive.

Additionally, if you have knowledge that someone stole property, you have every right under Texas law to take the stolen property and bring it to the local police station, a judge, or a police officer for examination.

In this scenario, the judge or magistrate can issue an arrest warrant based on the statements you made under oath about the stolen property.

The arrest warrant would order a police officer to bring the accused thief before the magistrate to answer to the accusations.

Instead, the court may decide to issue a “summons,” which tells the defendant to show up in court at a specified time. If the defendant does not appear in court on the specified date and time, what happens next is an arrest warrant is issued.

What rights do I have if I’m arrested?

If you are arrested for any reason, your rights are as follows:

  • Within 48 hours, you must be taken before a magistrate.
  • The magistrate will inform you of your criminal charges.
  • You have a right to retain legal counsel.
  • You have the right to remain silent.
  • You have the right to have an attorney present during any interviews with law enforcement.
  • You have the right to terminate the interview with police at any time.
  • You are not required to make any self-incriminating statements.

The magistrate will inform you of your above rights within 48 hours of the arrest. Additionally, the magistrate must give you ample opportunity to consult with a criminal defense attorney, and the opportunity of bail if it’s legally allowed in your situation.

If a person is being charged with a Class C misdemeanor (not including public intoxication), then the police officer may decide to issue the person a ticket (citation) instead of taking them before a magistrate.

In this case, the citation would indicate when and where the accused must appear before a local magistrate; it would also state which offense the person is being charged with.

Arrested in Denton? Secure a strong defense!

If you’ve been arrested in Denton, contact Derek A. Adame, Attorney at Law for advice. Attorney Adame is a former prosecutor who’s been serving Denton County since 1998. Call now for a free case evaluation!

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