Sometimes a defendant is injured prior to or during arrest. When the injury is serious, the defendant may need to go directly to the hospital. May a judicial official, such as a magistrate, come to the hospital to conduct the defendant’s initial appearance? A federal magistrate judge did just that for Dzokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon bomber, and I’m told that some North Carolina magistrates have occasionally done the same.
[Author’s Note: This post has been substantively edited to make corrections in response to helpful comments from readers.]
A person generally may not lawfully be arrested unless there is probable cause to believe he has committed a crime. But there are several exceptions to this rule. Most involve arrests made pursuant to an order for arrest issued by a judicial official. A judicial official may, for example, issue an order for the arrest of a defendant who fails to appear in court or who violates conditions of probation. See G.S. 15A-305(b). And there is one circumstance in which a law enforcement officer may, without a judicial order or warrant for the defendant’s arrest and without probable cause to believe a crime has been committed, arrest a defendant. That’s when the officer has probable cause to believe the defendant has violated a condition of pretrial release. G.S. 15A-401(b)(1),(b)(2)(f.).
[Author’s note: State v. Townsend was withdrawn and replaced by a subsequent opinion, available here. The portion of the opinion discussed below was unchanged by the subsequent opinion.] No one gets relief any more under State v. Knoll—at least not from the court of appeals. State v. Townsend, decided today, is the latest in a series … Read more
Magistrates walk a tight rope of sorts in setting conditions of pretrial release for defendants charged with impaired driving offenses. In addition to taking into account all of the factors they must consider when setting conditions of pretrial release in any criminal case and setting conditions accordingly, see G.S. 15A-534, magistrates who set conditions of … Read more