I just had an interesting email exchange with DPS spokesman Bart Graves. I wanted to know who authorized the arrest warrant for Republican Party Executive Director Brett Mecum. My questions are in regular font and Bart Graves' answers are in italic.
Bart, who signed the Mecum Warrant?
Greg: The actual paperwork was signed by the arresting officer Geoff Jacobs
It’s been a while since I took Crim Pro, but doesn’t a warrant have to be signed by a neutral magistrate?
Had a DPS officer witnessed this driving behavior, the policy is to arrest on the spot for criminal speeding/reckless driving and to impound the vehicle (30 day). At that time no other signature is needed except the arresting officer under probable cause. The same is true in this case.
End of exchange.*
Ok, we have to get into some Criminal Procedure here, but Bart's answer means that Mecum was arrested without a warrant.
Contrary to popular belief, most of the time it's OK to arrest someone without a warrant. The only requirement to arrest someone is probable cause.
However, there are three exceptions when a warrant is required. One is when you are in your house. The second is when you are in someone else's house. (That answers the question of why DPS tracked him down at work.)
The third exception is that a warrant is required when someone is arrested for a misdemeanor that was not observed by the officer.
That's clearly the case here.
When I pointed out to Graves that the officer isn't allowed to sign a warrant, he responded that the camera provides probable cause.
That means there was clearly no warrant.
However, it doesn't explain how the officers could use a month old picture from a photo radar camera to arrest someone for a misdemeanor at his office.
So, I'm opening up the comment section to lawyers who can answer my question. Was this an illegal arrest? If it was legal, please explain why. (The operative statute is 13-3883.)
(Since this is a technical question, I'm going to police the comment section more than usual. Please don't comment unless you really know something about this topic)
After this post was published, I received this confirmation from DPS. The answer provides confirmation of my analysis, so my question still stands.
Greetings, this Officer Robert Bailey, I work in the PIO unit with Bart Graves. To answer your question a arrest warrant is not needed to arrest a person so long as the officer has probable cause to believe a crime has been committed by the alleged suspect. Similar to idenitifing a suspect by surveilance camera footage.