Is Being Arrested the Same as Being Charged with a Crime?

A criminal case typically begins with an arrest and a charge for a crime. Although “arrested” and “charged” are often used together, they are not the same thing. If you have been arrested, that does not necessarily mean that you have been charged with a crime. In this blog, we’ll discuss the differences between the two.

What Is an Arrest?

To be “arrested” means to be taken into custody by a police officer or other law enforcement official. In Ohio, for an officer to make an arrest, they must either have a warrant or probable cause to do so.

A warrant is a document issued by the court that gives law enforcement officials the authority to arrest someone. Substantial reasons must exist to suggest that the person committed a crime before a judge will issue the warrant. Depending on the type of warrant, police can either actively pursue an arrest, meaning they can show up at someone’s residence or place of employment to take them into custody. Or they can arrest an individual after they have stopped them for another reason and found that there is a warrant in their name.

Probable cause means that there are reasonable grounds to believe that someone has or will commit an offense. If an officer has probable cause, they don’t need a warrant to take the person into custody; they can do so based on their observations.

In cases involving misdemeanor offenses, the officer must have seen the person committing the crime before they can arrest them. Typically, in these matters, a summons will be issued instead of an arrest being made.

In felony cases, the officer does not have to observe the person engaged in criminal conduct to make an arrest. They can do so if there is reason to believe the person has committed the crime.

After a person is arrested, they’ll be taken to a police station to be booked. The booking process involves taking photos and fingerprints. A law enforcement official may also ask questions about the alleged offense.

Remember that when you are in police custody and interrogated about a crime, you have the right to remain silent. You may also refuse to provide statements without your attorney present. It’s important to invoke these rights to protect yourself from providing the State with any evidence that can be used against you at trial.

What Is a Criminal Charge?

After an officer makes an arrest, they will complete a report. The report contains information about the incident leading up to the arrest. It is then sent to the State prosecutor for review.

Whether or not the defendant is formally charged with a crime depends on the prosecutor. They are tasked with pursuing criminal matters on behalf of the State. To land a conviction in a case, they must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the alleged crime.

When the prosecutor reviews the officer’s report, they will be looking to see if enough evidence exists to pursue the matter.

Depending on their findings, they can either:

  • File a complaint stating the formal charges
  • Not take the matter further

If the prosecutor decides to pursue the case, the formal charges may either be for the crime the defendant was initially arrested for or a greater or lesser offense. Additionally, the defendant could be charged with more than one crime.

If you or a loved one has been arrested in Dayton, contact Rion, Rion & Rion at (937) 223-9133. We have over 80 years of combined experience and can skillfully guide you through your case from start to finish.

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