An arrest occurs whenever a police officer places a person in custody. This can occur by a police officer forcing you to remain at a certain location (you are not free to leave). Police officers are allowed to keep you for what is known as “investigatory detentions,” which include brief detentions in order to write you a ticket or to figure out what is going on a a particular location, such as, separating potential witnesses and suspects and talking to them to see what has just occurred. Most people, however, consider an arrest to be when a person has actually been handcuffed and taken to another location (back of the police car, police station, police van, or actually being booked into jail and held to see a judge).
Note Regarding Miranda Rights
An officer DOES NOT have to read a suspect their Miranda Rights when the arrest them. Miranda Rights are only required if the police officer conducts a custodial interview/interrogation, i.e., the suspect is under arrest/in detention and is being questioned. Most television shows and movies show police officers reading suspects their Miranda Rights as soon as they are arrested but this is simply a Hollywood gimmick.
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More times than not, when police officers investigate a misdemeanor case they do not formally arrest the suspect and book them into jail. For police departments, it is very costly to take an officer off the street to book someone in downtown Phoenix for a minor offense. Instead, police officers often give a “citation in lieu of detention.”
A citation in lieu of detention means that the police officer is writing a ticket for the person to appear in court on a specific date and time on a criminal offense. This can happen for any type of misdemeanor offense and not just traffic tickets. The police officer will fill out a ticket for the misdemeanor offense, list the offense and relevant statute number, and then have the person sign the bottom of the ticket which means the person is promising to appear in court on a certain date. The officer will then then give the ticket to the person and release them to either to a cab, a third party, or simply let the person go. The date to appear in court that is listed on the bottom of the ticket is what is known as an “Initial Appearance.”
Note Regarding Domestic Violence Offenses
Most police officers will arrest a suspect if they believe a domestic violence offense has occurred instead of the officer providing a citation in lieu of detention.