Arrested, Rights

Arrest warrants are given out when the police believe someone has committed a crime. In a lot of cases, they know who the person is and where to find him or her when they get the warrant. Still, there are cases where the police are searching for the suspect and they arrest the wrong person. Why does this happen? Experts note a number of reasons, including the following:

Physical Features Do Match

The physical features listed on the warrant may be so general that they can apply to many people, and the person the police arrest does technically match the description. This doesn't happen as often when they have clear identifying marks, like a specific tattoo, but you can imagine how many people fit the description, for example, if it just says that the suspect is a white male with brown hair.

The Names Are the Same

This issue can be compounded if the two people have the same name. Some names, like Smith and Johnson, are terrifically common. A police officer could make a traffic stop, recognize the name on the license as the one from the warrant, and make an arrest without realizing he or she has the wrong person.

Criminals Use Fake IDs

Some alleged criminals actively make the situation more complicated by disguising themselves, stealing someone else's ID, or using a fake ID. Police may have a list of aliases, but that makes it even more likely that someone else will have the same name.

The Warrant Has the Wrong Information

This can happen when records aren't updated properly. Additionally, the details in the database could be correct, but the wrong information may accidentally have been added to the warrant.

The Wrong Person

Have you been arrested accidentally or unlawfully? Remember, you do have rights under the Fourth Amendement. If these were violated while the arrest was carried out, you need to know all of the legal options at your disposal.