506 – Arrest Procedures
The purpose of this policy is to define directives for both warrant and warrantless arrests conducted by Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) deputies.
Arrest – A person is arrested when he or she has been actually placed under restraint or taken into custody by a deputy executing a warrant of arrest, or by a deputy arresting without a warrant. [Texas CCP Art. 15.22]
Deputies must observe the rules of arrest established in the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure (CCP), applicable court decisions, and law. Deputies must comply with changes in the law or requirements mandated by court decisions.
The process of detaining or arresting a suspect is vital evidence for the case. Deputies must have their Body-Worn Cameras activated in accordance with Policy #618 – Body-Worn Cameras when detaining or arresting a subject.
IV. Detaining Suspects
A. The right to detain a suspect occurs when a deputy has reasonable suspicion to believe a subject either has or will commit an offense.
B. Reasonable suspicion is based on articulable facts, “taken together with rational inferences from those facts.” (Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968))
C. Suspicions must be based on observations made by a deputy coupled with his or her experience. For example:
• Imagine it’s nighttime and you hear a shattering noise.
• You go toward the sound and see a gloved subject crouching next to a car with a broken window. There are pieces of glass on the ground and the subject is holding a glass punch tool.
• The subject shines a flashlight into the car, then reaches into the car through the broken window and pulls out a backpack.
• Based on these articulable facts, a rational inference could be made that the subject may have committed a Burglary of a Motor Vehicle.
D. If reasonable suspicion is established, a stop and temporary detention is permitted. However, a Terry Stop does not automatically give the deputy the right to pat down a suspect for weapons. A pat down requires the deputy to be able to articulate:
1. The basis of his or her reasonable suspicion that allowed him or her to temporarily detain the suspect, and
2. What made him or her think the suspect was armed (e.g., a bulge under the clothing or furtive movements by the suspect).
V. Identifying Persons Detained or Arrested
A. A field interview may be performed to obtain the identity of a subject if the deputy has reasonable suspicion that he or she may have committed, may be committing, or is about to commit a crime. The deputy may stop and question a subject if he or she believes:
1. The subject is in a place under suspicious circumstances,
2. The subject may be a danger to him or herself, or others, or
3. The interview may lead to the prevention of a crime or probable cause for an arrest.
B. Deputies must properly identify a suspect to be arrested by physical description, automated fingerprint identification system (AFIS), or any other personally identifying information.
C. In cases where identification is inconclusive, the suspect must be photographed, and the incident report must document the person’s physical description, address, vehicle information, and any circumstances involved.
VI. Arrest Process
Upon making an arrest:
A. Advise the suspect of the reason for arrest if practical,
B. Handcuff the suspect using double-locked handcuffs, and
C. Conduct a thorough search of the suspect for weapons or contraband as soon as possible after arrest, and always prior to being transported.
D. See Policy #509 – Transporting Detainees for complete duties and responsibilities upon making an arrest.
VII. Arrest with a Warrant
Every deputy has the duty to execute an arrest warrant whenever it is within his or her power to do so. [Texas CCP Art. 2.13] Any incident of forced entry must be documented in an incident report.
A. Warrants must be verified through the Criminal Warrants Division prior to being executed.
B. There is no requirement for a deputy to have actual possession of the arrest warrant when executing it. However, the deputy must advise the suspect being arrested that the arrest is made pursuant to a warrant, and [Texas CCP Art. 15.26]:
1. If the deputy has the arrest warrant in his or her possession, it will be exhibited to the suspect, or
2. If the deputy does not have the arrest warrant, he or she will inform the suspect of the offense charged.
C. A deputy may execute an arrest warrant any time, day or night, issued by any court within the State of Texas provided [Texas CCP Art. 15.06]:
1. The place is a public place,
2. The deputy is in a place he or she has a lawful right to be,
3. The place is the residence of the suspect named in the warrant, or
4. The place is private property named in a search warrant provided the deputy has the search warrant in his or her possession.
5. If the warrant is issued by a mayor of an incorporated city or town in a county other than Harris County, the warrant must be properly endorsed. [Texas CCP Art. 15.07]:
D. A deputy may execute an arrest warrant issued by a court outside the State of Texas provided:
1. The warrant is confirmed as being valid and outstanding by the issuing jurisdiction, and
2. The issuing jurisdiction confirms it will initiate extradition proceedings.
E. Planned Execution of Arrest Warrants
1. Deputies may choose the time and place to execute a warrant. Factors to be considered in determining the time and place include:
a. The suspect’s whereabouts and likely movements;
b. If the location is a third-party residence absent exigent circumstances or consent, whether a search warrant should be obtained and possessed before entering the premises; and
c. Consideration of the safety and security of the suspect, deputies, and innocent bystanders.
2. Uniformed deputies should be present in order to proceed with a planned execution of an arrest warrant. Protective ballistic vests must be worn by every deputy participating in the warrant service.
3. Executing a Warrant on Private Property
Deputies must announce their identity, purpose, and demand admittance whenever they are executing a warrant on private property.
a. If refused entry after demanding admittance, and when exigent circumstances exist, deputies may conduct forced entry in a manner consistent with their bureau’s standard operating procedures.
b. Forced entry is prohibited for executing only a misdemeanor warrant.
c. If there is probable cause a suspect wanted on a misdemeanor warrant is located inside of private property and refuses to come out, a search warrant may be obtained for the suspect as stated in Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 18.02 (11).
4. “No-Knock” Warrants
No-knock warrants are warrants not requiring deputies to announce themselves or notify occupants prior to making entry onto private property. They are issued by judges or magistrates when they have determined it to be appropriate based on the totality of the circumstances.
Only the Sheriff, or his or her designee, can authorize execution of a no-knock warrant. Exigent circumstances must exist to reasonably justify the need for execution of the warrant.
VIII. Arrest Without a Warrant
The authority to arrest without a warrant is entirely statutory. A deputy’s good faith does not justify an invalid warrantless arrest. Any deputy who acts outside his or her authority in making a warrantless arrest may be subject to both civil and criminal liability.
A deputy may make a warrantless arrest only if he or she has enough personal knowledge or reliable information to constitute probable cause upon which an arrest warrant could be issued if time is permitted.
A. Warrantless Arrest Authority
Warrantless arrest authority is derived from the following Texas statutes:
1. Alcoholic Beverage Code, Chapter 101, Article 101.02, any violation
2. Code of Criminal Procedure:
a. Chapter 8, Article 8.04, “Dispersing Riot”
b. Chapter 14
i. Article 14.01, “Offense Within View”
ii. Article 14.02, “Within View of Magistrate”
iii. Article 14.03 (a)(1), “Suspicious Places and Circumstances”
iv. Article 14.03 (a)(2), “Assault – Bodily Injury”
v. Article 14.03 (a)(3), “Violation of Protective Order”
vi. Article 14.03 (a)(4), “Family Violence – Bodily Injury”
vii. Article 14.03 (b), “Violation of Protective Order”
viii. Article 14.04, “Fleeing Felon”
c. Chapter 18, Article 18.16, “Preventing Consequences of Theft”
d. Chapter 51, Article 51.13, “Uniform Criminal Extradition Act”
3. Health and Safety Code, Chapter 462, Section 462.041, “Chemically Dependent Person”
4. Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 11, Article 11.0191, any violation
5. Transportation Code, Chapter 53, Section 543.001, any violation
B. Rights of Peace Officers:
Where an arrest may be lawfully made without a warrant, a deputy making an arrest is justified in adopting all measures which he or she might adopt in cases of an arrest under a warrant except that the deputy making the arrest without a warrant may not enter a residence to arrest unless [Texas CCP Art. 14.05]:
1. A person who resides in the residence consents to entry, or
2. Exigent circumstances require that the deputy making the arrest enter the residence without the consent of the resident or without a warrant.
NOTE: Deputies must still announce themselves prior to making entry under this section.
A. For good cause consistent with public interest, a deputy may decide not to arrest a suspect even though probable cause exists.
B. A supervisor must be notified immediately in cases involving a felony where an arrest was not made and the reasoning must be documented in the incident report.
NOTE: This section does not apply to family violence or violations of a protective order which require specific actions to be taken by a deputy.
C. Factors the deputy may consider in determining not to arrest are:
The victim must positively state that he or she is not interested in prosecuting the suspect because:
1. He or she desires restitution only,
2. He or she is or has been involved in a continuing relationship with the suspect, such as employer and employee,
3. The injury done to persons or damage to property is minimal, or
4. The arrest would result in greater harm to the victim than would non-arrest.
D. When a Class C misdemeanor has been committed and probable cause exists to believe the person to be arrested has committed the offense, a deputy may issue a citation and release the suspect on his or her own recognizance. Citation and release must not be issued for family violence or public intoxication offenses. To be eligible for release, the suspect must:
1. Provide positive identification provided through acceptable documents such as a driver’s license, or other government issued identification,
2. Provide his or her residential address,
3. Have no outstanding warrants, and
4. Not actively wish to harm him or herself, or others.
E. Deputies should also consider whether the suspect has a medical condition requiring attention or treatment in determining whether to issue a citation in place of arrest.
F. Certain Class A and B misdemeanors may also be eligible for citation under the Cite and Release program, see Policy #515 – Cite and Release.
G. Each circumstance is different, and should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. A supervisor must be contacted any time there is a question on what appropriate action should be taken.
X. Diplomatic Immunity
Certain foreign diplomats, consular representatives, and their staff, are immune from arrest under specific conditions as part of the United States’ participation in the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. The HCSO follows the U.S. Department of State’s guidelines in dealing with diplomats.
A. A deputy must notify a supervisor immediately if a subject is identified as a foreign diplomat, consular officer, or claims diplomatic immunity.
B. Dealing with Foreign Diplomats
1. Persons entitled to diplomatic immunity are issued ID cards from the Department of State or by the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.
2. ID cards will contain a photograph of the bearer, along with identifying information and a Department of State seal. The card’s reverse side will contain a brief statement of the bearer’s diplomatic immunity status.
3. Questions as to whether a person is entitled to immunity may be directed to:
a. The U.S. State Department, Houston Office, at 713-209-3482, or
b. The U.S. State Department 24-hour line at 202-647-7277.
4. Stopping a diplomatic agent and issuing a traffic citation is permissible, although the diplomatic agent may not be compelled to sign the citation.
5. Property, including vehicles, may not be searched or seized.
6. Vehicles may not be impounded, but may be towed the distance necessary to remove them from obstructing traffic or endangering public safety.
C. Consular Officers
1. Foreign consular officers may be arrested if there is a felony warrant for their arrest.
2. Honorary consular officers, consular employees, and consular families are not immune from arrest. However, whenever practical, they must be released on misdemeanor offenses pending the issuance of a complaint for an offense.
3. Consular vehicles may be towed and impounded.
D. DWI and Other Serious Cases Involving Diplomatic Agents
1. In serious cases involving diplomatic agents, e.g., DWI, DUI, personal injury, and accidents, deputies on the scene should make telephonic notification to the U.S. Department of State (using the numbers provided on the reverse side of the Department of State driver’s license if available or refer to Section X, B. 3 above).
2. If DWI is suspected, the deputy should perform a standardized field sobriety test and document the results in an incident report. However, the taking of these tests may not be compelled.
3. If the deputy judges the subject too impaired to drive safely, the deputy should not permit the subject to continue to drive (even in the case of diplomatic agents).
4. The deputy may, with the subject’s permission, take the subject to a substation or other location where he or she may recover sufficiently to drive; the deputy may summon, or allow the subject to summon, a friend or relative to drive; or the deputy may call a taxi or ride share for the subject. If appropriate, the deputy may choose to provide the individual with transportation.
5. If there is any doubt in how to handle the situation, advise a supervisor and contact the U.S. State Department for guidance.
Reports which involve foreign diplomats or consular officers should be forwarded to the U.S. Department of State.
This policy has been revised on the below listed dates:
April 21, 2009
August 21, 2017
December 27, 2021