When you arrest a person on a
previously issued arrest warrant, your
arrest report will usually be pretty
simple.  Your department may require
you to submit a follow-up report under
the original case number listing the arrest
information such as date, time, location,
etc.  Or, your department may have a
separately formatted report specifically
for the service of arrest warrants.  Either
way, there will be a reporting procedure
in place to connect the arrest with the
original reporting of the offense for which
you arrested the suspect.

When you make an arrest on a warrant
issued from another jurisdiction, you'll
most likely prepare a miscellaneous
incident report listing the other
jurisdiction's case number.  Again, if your
department has a separate arrest report,
it will have fields (boxes) to list all
required information regarding out of
jurisdiction warrants.

Either way, all reports have narratives.  
When you make observations or receive
additional information regarding the
offense for which the warrant was issued,
you must list those observations or
information.  For instance, a suspect
you're arresting on an attempted murder
warrant may make a spontaneous,
incriminating statement to you, "I was
just defending myself, officer...he shot at
me first!"  This statement has just made
you a state's witness to the crime
charged in the warrant, and it is your
responsibility to document that pertinent
information to make it a permanent part
of the original investigation.

I talk a lot about probable cause ,
because it is such an important part of
your job.  You're going to arrest a lot of
people for a lot of things, and how you
articulate probable cause will determine
how much justice you're going to achieve.
Statement of Probable Cause

When you apply for an arrest warrant,
search warrant, or you make a
warrantless arrest, you'll prepare and
submit a statement of probable cause as
a court document.  While your police
report will also contain the elements of
probable cause, the court document part
is the part that really counts...particularly
in the short term.

I know you've heard the stories where
suspects are released on low bails, no
bails, or...they're released without
charges due to lack of probable cause.  
During your academy training, you may
well be told to keep your statement of
probable cause short with only
information sufficient to establish
probable cause.  Here's the problem with
"just enough" probable cause.  If ten
different people review a statement of
probable cause, you'll have ten different
opinions as to the weight and legitimacy
of the probable cause.  You'll be amazed
when you see a judge require
overwhelming proof of guilt to establish
probable cause. Of course, if you watch
that same judge over time, you'll find
that the judge's definition of probable
cause varies with the type of crime

Many police officers, and academy
instructors, believe that when a reviewing
court official needs additional information
beyond what's recorded within your
statement of probable cause, he or she
can obtain a copy of the police report.  
Let's take a short pause here
for...laughter.  Whenever a judge,
magistrate, state's attorney, or some
other designated court official reviews
your probable cause to determine the
existence of probable cause and the
following bail status of your defendant,
that official bears no obligation to go
searching for additional information.  

Since probable cause -- which really isn't
a hard thing to establish and understand
-- has different standards for different
people, how can you be certain that
you've provided sufficient information to
establish probable cause within your
statement of probable cause?  It's
easy...put everything you have into your
statement of probable cause.

Whenever I arrested a person without a
warrant, the narrative of my police report
was simply a copy of the statement of
probable cause.  I didn't have the benefit
of word processing and the simple
procedure of cut and paste.  My method
required a lot of writing, but I never had
a problem with anyone questioning my
statements of probable cause.  There's a
good possibility that you'll have the
benefit of being able to cut and paste
across different reports if your
department's reporting system is fully

Most of the warrantless arrests you make
will be completed during the arrest and
reporting procedures.  In other words,
most will not require follow-up reporting,
and all of the information required for
prosecution will already be available.  
When all the information is in the
statement of probable cause, the
prosecutor's job becomes a lot simpler.  
For that matter, everybody's job
becomes a lot simpler.
Probable Cause

One of the first things you'll learn about
probable cause is that probable cause is
a standard that requires enough evidence
to make an arrest while that evidence
need not be sufficient to convict the
person of the crime for which you
arrested that person.  During your
academy training, you'll probably be told
to keep everything you write simple and
to the point.  That's fine as long as you
address everything that needs to be
addressed.  Simple and to the point
should never be construed as meaning
short and lacking any pertinent
information that is available to you.

Here's the thing...a probable cause
statement could be contained within just
a few sentences, or it could run into
pages.  The length and content on your
probable cause statements depends
solely on your commitment to accuracy
and thoroughness.
All of the arrests you make will be either
by your execution of an arrest warrant or
by warrantless arrest based on your
observations or information received
which provides probable cause for you to
make the warrantless arrest.
"When all the information is in the
statement of probable cause, the
prosecutor's job becomes a lot
simpler.  For that matter,
everybody's job becomes a lot
simpler." ~ Barry M. Baker
Copyright © 2016  Barry M. Baker