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What Is an Arrest Affidavit?

An arrest affidavit is a form filled out when an individual is taken into police custody.
An arrest affidavit must be signed by the individual completing it.
Arrest affidavits are completed to secure a warrant for someone's arrest.
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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 04 July 2014
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An arrest affidavit is a form a law enforcement official fills out in relation to an arrest. Often, this form is completed when a police officer wants to secure an arrest warrant. In such a case, it is used to present the facts of a case and demonstrate probable cause for arresting an individual. The affidavit may be presented to a magistrate or judge, who then determines whether or not to issue the arrest warrant. This type of form may also be completed after an arrest has already taken place in some jurisdictions. In this situation, it may be referred to as an arrest report as well.

Every arrest affidavit must be signed by the party who prepared it. Law enforcement officials are expected to take great care in preparing them and provide detailed information. If an official leaves an important detail out or makes a mistake with relating facts, his request for a warrant may be denied.

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When an arrest affidavit is used to secure an arrest warrant, it is considered a statement made under oath. If the party who completes the affidavit lies or intentionally obscures the truth, he may face perjury penalties. To obtain an arrest warrant, a law enforcement official usually has to provide details of the facts of a case and show why he believes the facts he has provided are enough to arrest the individual in question. Depending on the jurisdiction, an arrest warrant may be issued for a person who is suspected of committing a crime or is in the process of committing a crime. In fact, a jurisdiction’s laws may allow for an individual to be arrested because there is good reason to believe he is preparing to commit a crime.

An arrest affidavit may be used after an officer has already made an arrest. For example, if a police officer sees a criminal in the act of committing a crime, there may be no need for an arrest warrant. Likewise, if a person’s suspicious behavior gives police reason to believe he has committed a crime, they may not need a warrant. In such a case, the police officer may be required to complete an affidavit after the arrest and detail why he arrested the suspect. As with the affidaits that are used in obtaining a warrant, this type of affidavit is considered an oath, and the preparer may face perjury charges if it includes falsehoods.

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Discuss this Article

anon943936
Post 4

Oh, no! They'd never lie! And yet, it is strange that they use the same cut-and-paste language in nearly every affidavit that begins with a traffic stop and DUI suspicion.. Maybe all suspected drivers act and look exactly the same.

anon941004
Post 3

Being a retired officer of 21 years I can say that when you write an arrest affidavit, it best be true and factual. This paper will follow you the rest of life. It's called "paper trail" and it will either make you a creditable officer or not creditable officer and/or a perjured officer, which results in being charged by the state.

SZapper
Post 2

@JaneAir - I think usually the real truth falls somewhere between the official version and the TV version, so to speak. I'm sure police officers have to balance the actual law with their desire to catch the bad guys!

I've never had any personal experience with an arrest affidavit myself but I guess this isn't the sort of document a person wants to frame and put on the wall! I'd also imagine that if a person gets their case expunged the affidavit would be gone as well.

JaneAir
Post 1

It's interesting that the whole process of getting an arrest affidavit is supposed to be so exact and official. Most law related TV shows make it look like police officers bend the truth a lot to get their warrant. But if lying on an arrest affidavit is considered perjury and punishable by law I doubt this happens much in real life. At least I hope not!

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