Lawful Arrest Law and Legal Definition

The term 'lawful arrest' refers to the legal custody of a person under warrant or under a probable cause. Probable cause includes the belief of commission of crime, or an arrest demanded under civil process.

According the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the elements of a lawful arrest are as follows:

1. Oath or Affirmation made;

2. Probable Cause determined;

3. Specific Warrant issued; and

4. The actual arrest or detainment.

The fact of a lawful arrest establishes the authority for a full search of the person. It also establishes that such search is a reasonable search. [People v. Scherer, 23 Ill. App. 3d 473, 475 (Ill. App. Ct. 1974)]. In Chimel v. Cal., 395 U.S. 752, 755-756 (U.S. 1969), the cour held that, “When a man is legally arrested for an offense, whatever is found upon his person or in his control which it is unlawful for him to have and which may be used to prove the offense may be seized and held as evidence in the prosecution”.