Generally if the police observe an offense, the police may arrest the offender at the time they observed the crime. This rule applies to summary offenses as well but only if the offender is causing a disturbance or harm to himself or others. Also, the police may lawfully make a warrantless arrest if they have 1. probable cause that a crime was committed, 2. probable cause that it was committed by the arrestee and 3. by showing that by taking the time to apply with a magistrate or judge for an arrest warrant they would risk losing the offender or valuable evidence.

Once the accused is arrested, the police must bring the accused in front of a magistrate for a determination of probable cause for the arrest without any unnecessary delay. This action of bringing the accused to the magistrate is called a preliminary arraignment. However, if the most serious offense that could be charged is a misdemeanor of the second degree or a DUI charge, the officer must release the accused immediately without a preliminary arraignment and secure a criminal complaint within five days of the release and the case will proceed by summons instead of by preliminary arraignment. Assuming the case is appropriate to take the accused in front of the issuing authority for a preliminary arraignment, the police officer presents the criminal complaint to the issuing authority who then makes a determination of probable cause for the charges and signs the criminal complaint in the presence of the accused and serves the accused with a copy of the complaint.

Understand that you have a constitutional right to remain silent and to refrain from speaking with the police at this point and at all points in the criminal justice procedure. Seelinger Law recommends that you call us for representation at this early stage in the process to safeguard your rights.


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Erie, PA 16509
814.824.6670

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Meadville, PA 16335
814.547.5920

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Building 1B, Suite 200
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
412.532.8222

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