Arrested in St. Louis Without a Warrant


You’ve heard on television before, “come back when you get a warrant!” Unfortunately, in real life, police don’t always need a warrant to arrest. Police can arrest based upon probable cause… you see this happen when a driver is arrested for driving while intoxicated. You also see this when the police can plainly smell marijuana when approaching a vehicle during a traffic stop and then arrest you. 

Police can also conduct searches and seizures without warrants.


You should also know, police can search you without a warrant in several circumstances

  1. Consent –  you consent to be searched.
  2. In plain view – police can seize evidence that is in plain view.
  3. Search incident to arrest – if someone is arrested for drugs, they can search for more drugs.
  4. Exigent circumstances – if police feel like they don’t have time for a warrant because evidence is being destroyed.

When they ticket or arrest you without a warrant, it is based upon probable cause. Probable cause has many definitions, but the most used one is that it is “a reasonable amount of suspicion, supported by circumstances sufficiently strong to justify a prudent and cautious person, belief that certain facts are probably true.” 

Remember use of the words “probably true,” it just means more likely than not the officer believes with a reasonable amount of suspicion that you’ve committed a crime. This is a very friendly standard for officers.

The U.S. Supreme Court has expressed preference for arrest warrants when feasible to do so, but that doesn’t mean they happen all the time.

In an ideal world, courts always prefer warrants. They prefer warrants because an individual’s rights are MOST protected when a Judge gets to review the factual justification prior to any arrest. In reality, this does not happen in the large majority of cases. Police officers work in a fast-paced world and must make split-second decisions.


You can be held for up to 24 hours for an criminal offense when the arrest is based upon

Probable cause. At the end of 24 hours, law enforcement must go to the Judge for a warrant and get a bond set on your case, or let you go.

This is the time you want to make sure you have a lawyer on your side.

Disclaimer: The choice of an attorney is important and should not be solely based upon advertisements. Each DWI case is different and you should consult with an attorney on specific legal issues.

When they ticket or arrest you without a warrant, it is based on probable cause.

Brendan Block

Attorney at Law

Brendan practices law in St. Louis, Missouri and surrounding areas. He handles all criminal cases, but especially DWI, shoplifting, theft and possession cases. He is a former prosecutor who now defends his clients with the utmost care and attention. 

"I literally don't know what I would have done without Mr. Block. A police officer stopped me and "smelled" weed on me and ended up charging me with possession and paraphanalia and intention to sell. A joke!!!!

Theres no way I could have afforded the charges or some big law firm. Brendan explained to me what he was doing to win and how he was taking care of it. And he kept me out of jail and saved me tons of money! So thankful for his help!!!"
Loretta K.
St. Charles, MO


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