The police arrest you on the street. The entire time, you tell them that you did nothing wrong. Eventually, they find a different suspect. It turns out, as you knew, that you were innocent. They mistakenly arrested you. Is that now an illegal arrest?

The Fourth Amendment

It might be, but it isn't automatically, so don't assume it was illegal just because your innocence became clear. Under the Fourth Amendment, illegal searches and seizures do violate your rights. This includes arrests. But that doesn't mean those rights have been violated just because the police made a mistake.

Probable Cause

The key is probable cause, which the police must have before they arrest you. This means there has to be some valid reason why they thought you committed a crime. They can't simply see you walking down the street and decide to arrest you randomly to check and see if you're guilty.

If they did have probable cause, though, they can then detain you legally, even if it turns out that you did nothing wrong. It's unfortunate when this happens, which is why police try to gather evidence and be sure of who they're detaining before an arrest is made, but plenty of people are picked up and turn out to be innocent. This doesn't mean that all of those arrests are illegal. If police followed proper procedures and can show evidence that helps support their decisions, they can be wrong without breaking the law.

A False Arrest

Do you think you have been falsely arrested? Whether you think that means the arrest was illegal or just that you know you're innocent of the charges, it's crucial to know all of your options moving forward. Being arrested under these circumstances can be very frustrating and frightening, so be sure to focus on your legal rights, remembering that the law is on your side.