What Does It Mean to Be Detained vs. Arrested in Wyoming?

detained vs arrested

Cowboy Country Criminal Defense Attorney Addresses the Difference Between Being Detained vs. Arrested

If a law enforcement officer pulled you over in Wyoming, searched your car, and placed you under arrest, you may wonder if the officer violated your rights.

Police officers have the authority to investigate crimes. However, they do not possess the power to detain you indefinitely without evidence.

You have the constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Cowboy Country Criminal Defense attorney Jeremy Hugus will fight hard to protect your rights.

As a highly experienced and successful criminal defense lawyer, Jeremy will review your case to see if the police violated your constitutional rights and work to develop the best defense strategy possible to help you win your case.

Detained vs. Arrested in Wyoming Explained

Wyoming law recognizes three types of police encounters:

  • Voluntary or consensual encounter;
  • Investigatory detention (also called a “Terry stop”); and
  • Formal arrest based on probable cause or arrest with a warrant.

A voluntary encounter means that the person was objectively free to leave. For example, if you walk up to a police officer to ask a question, the encounter is voluntary.

Similarly, if the police walk up to you and ask you a question, you are free to leave unless they have evidence that justifies their intrusion into your privacy.

What Does It Mean to Be Detained?

Police can detain a person to investigate a violation of the law. The most common example is getting pulled over for a traffic violation.

In that situation, the officer can detain you to investigate the officer’s belief that a moving violation occurred. 

A police officer needs evidence to detain a person. The evidence, under both the U.S. and Wyoming constitutions, is reasonable suspicion. If a police officer saw you run a stop sign, the officer has reasonable suspicion to stop you to give you a ticket for that infraction.

The police officer cannot detain you any longer than reasonably necessary to complete the investigation into the reason why the officer stopped you. The officer must let you be on your way once the officer finishes the traffic stop. 

Good police officers understand that people often conceal contraband inside of a car. Therefore, the officer will ask questions of the driver to see if the story makes sense. You never have to answer those questions. Despite that right, many people decide to talk with the police. 

The officer might ask for consent to search the car. The officer needs no reason at all to ask you if you consent to a car search. You have the right to say “no.” 

Constitutional law allows police officers to detain a person longer if the officer has reasonable suspicion to believe that a crime is underway, was committed, or is about to be committed.

The officer cannot rely on just a hunch. Instead, the officer must have evidence to justify inquiring further. That could lead to a search of your car or your person. 

When Are You Arrested vs. Detained in Wyoming?

The difference between being detained vs. arrested is one of degree. A police officer must have either an arrest warrant or possess probable cause that you committed a crime to place you under formal arrest.

A formal arrest usually means the police put handcuffs on you, bring you back for booking and fingerprinting, read your Miranda rights, and file charges against you.

However,  a stop based on reasonable suspicion becomes an arrest without probable cause when the police detain you without enough evidence to justify their actions. 

The police may have arrested you unlawfully if they:

  • Detained you longer than necessary to complete their initial investigation;
  • Used more force than required to protect themselves;
  • Called for a large number of officers to assist with their investigation;
  • Patted you down for weapons; 
  • Put you in handcuffs; or
  • Put you in the patrol car.

The court will look at the “totality of the circumstances” to see if the police violated your rights by arresting you without probable cause. The judge may suppress all evidence seized against you, including any statements you made, if the police arrested you without probable cause.

What Should You Do If You Feel Police Should Have Detained You vs. Arrested You in Wyoming?

Cowboy Country Criminal Defense lawyer Jeremy Hugus relies on his extensive courtroom experience when coming up with a winning defense strategy. With Jeremy by your side, you can rest assured knowing that he will fight aggressively to protect your rights if you were wrongly detained vs. arrested in Wyoming.

Call Jeremy and his team with Cowboy Country Criminal Defense right away at 307-333-7884 to get your best defense.

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