Arrest and Detention in Utah

Stephen Howard — Stone River Law

Real Experience. Real Results.

Arrest and Detention in Utah

An arrest or temporary investigative detention by police is considered to be a “seizure” under the Fourth Amendment. Without sufficient evidentiary justification, police action may constitute a violation of Fourth Amendment which can lead to the suppression of evidence obtained by police as a result of that violation.

Utah law categorizes police interactions in three “levels” that are analyzed differently by the courts. A thorough understanding of these levels and the evidentiary standards that apply to them can be critical to developing an effective strategy for defending against criminal charges.

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Level One – Consensual Encounters

A “level one” encounter between a citizen and law enforcement is a consensual interaction involving a citizen’s voluntary responses to non-coercive questioning by a police officer. The person is not physically restrained and is not ordered or commanded to remain. Instead, the person is free to leave at any point during the interaction and is also free to refuse to answer the officer’s questions.

Because a level one encounter is not considered to be a “seizure” under the Fourth Amendment, police are not required to articulate any evidentiary basis for initiating contact.

Level Two – Temporary Investigative Detention

A “level two” encounter involves circumstances in which a person would reasonably believe that they are not free to leave. The encounter is not consensual – meaning that the officer uses some level of force or a show of authority to effect a detention. The detention is usually relatively brief and non-intrusive.

A level two stop does not need to be supported by probable cause. But a police officer must still have a reasonable articulable suspicion of criminal activity in order to detain a person and engage in a level two encounter.

Reasonable articulable suspicion is a lower standard of evidence than what is required to support a finding of probable cause. The evidence and information available to the officer must provide an “articulable” basis (a basis that can be articulated or put into words) for the officer’s “reasonable” belief that a crime has been or is being committed.

Level Three – Arrest

A level three encounter involves an arrest, which is more intrusive or is expected to be more lengthy than the type of detention involved in a level two encounter. To pass Fourth Amendment scrutiny, an arrest must be supported by probable cause.

Finding a Criminal Defense Attorney in Utah

If you are facing criminal charges in Utah, our criminal defense team is here to help. Our experienced Utah defense attorneys work together to develop defense strategies intended to get the results you need.

Contact us today to see how we can help you.