When is an arrest illegal?
The answer to this depends on the facts of your case. An example of an arrest that the Indiana Appeals Court found illegal begins with a 24-hour storage facility in a high crime neighborhood. The Landlord owner of the storage business suspected the Renter of the unit was living at the storage facility which would have been a violation of the lease. He confronted the Renter about it during the evening one day. Later that same day the Landlord observed the Renter was at the storage facility so the landlord called the police. Two police officers arrived and went out with the Landlord to confront the Renter and the two men who were with him. The police arrived and told the three men to stop and sit on the ground. One of the men, the Defendant, who was with the Renter, had a bag with him. The police questioned the Defendant about the contents of the bag. The police did not read him his Miranda rights. Eventually, the Defendant admitted that he had marijuana inside his bag. The Defendant did not consent to his bag being searched. The police then searched his bag, found the marijuana, and also found methamphetamine, a butane lighter, pseudoephedrine pills, clear plastic baggies, pill bottles, and a digital scale. This made the police suspect the Defendant was dealing drugs. The Defendant then told the police his car was parked nearby.
One of the officers then went to the car and smelled marijuana through the open windows, then searched the interior of the car. The officer went on to open the trunk of the car with the Defendant’s keys because he feared there was an active meth lab in it. The trunk smelled of ammonia, an indicator of meth being manufactured. In the trunk, the officer found a tool box and when he opened the toolbox he found evidence of an inactive meth lab. He then had his drug dog walk around the vehicle. The dog indicated there were drugs present and the officer found a half-burned marijuana cigarette on the outside of the vehicle. The Defendant did not consent to the search of his car.
The officer then drafted a search warrant for a judge to read. The Defendant was transported to jail and finally read his Miranda rights. The Appellate court held that the men being told to stop and sit on the ground was equivalent to being under arrest. This arrest was illegal because the men had a right to be at the 24-hour storage facility with the Renter. The Renter had not violated the terms of his lease and been warned for trespass, nor had the men with him. Because the arrest was illegal all the evidence found as a result of the arrest was suppressed and could not be used against the Defendant.