Friday, March 8, 2019

WHEN DOES POLICE QUESTIONING MEAN I’M UNDER ARREST?

Something bad just happened in your neighborhood. Maybe it was an attack or a robbery. Since you were in the area, the police questioned you. You tried to cooperate, but then things started to get tense. The police seem to blame you. You want to walk away, but you are afraid the police will stop you.

When does police questioning become a seizure and cross the line into arrest?

The answer depends on whether you as a reasonable person would feel free to leave. Courts look at a variety of factors to determine when a seizure has occurred including: (1) the threatening presence of multiple officers, (2) the display of a weapon by an officer, (3) some physical touching of your person, and (4) the use of language or tone of voice indicating that your compliance might be compelled. The court may also look at other types of coercive police behavior.

In People v Sanchez, the defendant was convicted of murder. The court held that a police stop had become a seizure when police ordered the defendant to come to them in an authoritative tone of voice. Defendant was then handcuffed and ordered to sit on the curb. A reasonable person, the court said, would not have felt free to leave.

Establishing the exact point a seizure has occurred can be important in determining whether the police had the necessary probable cause to arrest you. If the officer lacked probable cause until after the seizure, the arrest itself might be illegal.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its possible defense. If the police seized you without probable cause, an attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress the evidence from the illegal arrest.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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