What to Do If the Police Arrests You

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Police putting on hand cuffs to arrested person


If the police are on your doorstep with an arrest warrant, both sides can do a lot wrong. What you need to know about an arrest warrant and how you should best react, you will learn in this post.

1. What is an arrest warrant?

The aim of the arrest warrant is to bring you into pre-trial detention and thus to support an ongoing investigation by the public prosecutor’s office against you. It is a printed document (that can be done using printers like HP with HP wifi setup) issued by the judge at the request of the public prosecutor’s office.

Pre-trial detention alone therefore says nothing about your guilt or innocence. It is intended solely to ensure that you, in particular:

  • do not commit the offence or a similar offence again during the investigation,
  • influence witnesses or other parties to the proceedings, or
  • escape.

They are therefore allowed to leave the detention centre as soon as

  • none of these circumstances is to be feared,
  • terminate the proceedings,
  • you have been acquitted, or
  • ==References== Only if you are actually sentenced to imprisonment will you remain in custody even after the court proceedings.

A distinction must also be made between the arrest warrant and the demonstration order. In the case of a demonstration order, the police will not take you to pre-trial detention, but will only pick you up to ensure your presence before a judge or the public prosecutor’s office. However, a longer imprisonment does not take place here in principle.

2. When is an arrest warrant issued?

The arrest of a person is a serious interference with their rights. For this reason, an arrest warrant is not issued in every investigation by the public prosecutor’s office.

Before issuing an arrest warrant, the judge checks whether the following conditions are met:

  1. Urgent suspicion
  2. Reason for detention
  3. Proportionality of detention

In the following, we explain the individual requirements in more detail. Please note, however, that every judicial decision is based on a complex balancing act. Therefore, if you are afraid that an arrest warrant could be issued against you, you should contact a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.

Urgent suspicion

An arrest warrant will only be issued if you are strongly suspected of committing the crime. For this, you must have committed the act with a high degree of probability. The prosecution must therefore have already presented the judge with credible evidence. On the other hand, a mere initial suspicion – i.e. a vague assumption – is not enough to bring you into pre-trial detention.

Most applications for arrest warrants already fail because of this requirement.

Reason for detention

Even if you are strongly suspected of the crime, you will only be detained if there is a reason for detention. The law knows various reasons for detention:

  1. Flight or risk of absconding (often assumed if the accused has good connections abroad).
  2. The risk that you will act on evidence or witnesses (“blackout risk”).
  3. The risk of recurrence for certain offences, in particular bodily injury, theft and fraud.
  4. Serious crime, e.g. murder and serious bodily injury.

If none of these grounds for detention exist, no arrest warrant will be issued against you. This is true even if the judge is convinced of your guilt.


Even if you are strongly suspected of the crime and there is a reason for detention, an arrest warrant will not necessarily be issued. After all, an arrest is a serious restriction of freedom. The detention must therefore not be disproportionate to the seriousness of the crime.

3. How do I know if there is an arrest warrant against me?

As a rule, the arrest should be surprising. Especially in the case of a risk of absconding, an arrest would often be made impossible if the suspect could easily inform himself about an arrest warrant. They should not be given the opportunity to prepare for the arrival of the police or to evade arrest. Therefore, you will not regularly know before the arrest that there is an arrest warrant against you.

This should be done as early as possible in the investigation procedure. Once the arrest warrant has been issued, the lawyer can no longer demand access to the files until the person concerned is imprisoned or the order is revoked.

4. The suspended sentence has been revoked – is the arrest warrant now coming?

Probation is meant to give you a chance to rehabilitate yourself. You may not violate your probation conditions and instructions, nor commit a crime. If you fail to do so, your probation may be revoked. In this case, arrest and imprisonment are threatened.

As a rule, however, you do not have to expect that immediately after a violation, the police will be at the door with an arrest warrant. First of all, the revocation procedure must take place. Only after the deadlines have expired will you – if your defence was not successful – take up detention.

You only have to fear an arrest warrant – i.e. temporary detention from one day to the next – if

  • there is a risk of flight or you are already fleeting or
  • there is a suspicion that you will commit significant crimes.

5. What do the police do with an arrest warrant?

The task of the police is to locate you and take you into custody. How often it rings at your front door cannot be answered in general. It is not uncommon for the police to visit you at your workplace or ask people about your whereabouts. This is also to be expected on weekends. If you cannot be found, the arrest warrant is not out of the world. At the latest, if you accidentally or deliberately get into a police check, you must expect your imprisonment.

If it comes to that, the police will give you a copy of the arrest warrant. If you do not speak or hardly speak German, you must receive a translation in a language that you can understand. If necessary, the police will first inform you orally about the arrest warrant and submit the translation later. Now the police will teach you about your rights.

The police will then take you into custody and take you to the prison in charge. Next, but no later than the next day, you will be presented to the judge. He will listen to you and give you the opportunity to refute the allegations. On the basis of your statements and the evidence presented, he will decide on the maintenance of detention.

The judge now has several options:

  • He can revoke the arrest warrant.
  • He can confirm it.
  • He will also consider whether less harsh measures can be considered in your case and whether the arrest warrant can be suspended. Instead of imprisonment, for example, your passport could be confiscated or you could be prohibited from contact with witnesses.

6. The police are at the door with an arrest warrant – what to do?

Now it is important to keep calm. Even rudeness towards the police will not get you anywhere. Do not respond to provocations. Instead, make it clear to yourself that as an accused person you are by no means without rights and the last word has not yet been spoken. You also do not need to have an in-depth knowledge of your rights to assert them.

It is important that you make use of your rights. Restraint is out of place here. Prosecutors and police may be able to tell you that a confession will be worthwhile later. However, you should not comment on the matter at this time and should not sign anything. You have no obligation to cooperate.

With the help of a lawyer, you can take action against the arrest warrant or apply for a detention review, as well as inspect the investigation files. In many cases, the appointment of a defense lawyer is even mandatory.

At the latest when you stand before the judge after your arrest, you should have consulted a defense lawyer.

Remember: An arrest warrant may only be issued if there is an urgent suspicion. Therefore, you do not have to convince the judge of your innocence. It is enough if the judge at least seriously doubts your guilt. In this interrogation, there is therefore a realistic chance of having your detention lifted. However, you will rarely achieve this on your own, but in the worst case, you will talk about your head and collar.

7. Can I be arrested without an arrest warrant?

An arrest without an arrest warrant is called provisional arrest and is only possible in special cases. To do this, the police must “catch you in the act”. In addition, the following conditions must be met:

  • Your identity cannot be established. This is not to be assumed, for example, if you have an ID with you, OR
  • There is a risk of absconding. If you cooperate with the officials right from the start, it will hardly be assumed.


  • The requirements for an arrest warrant are met.

A judge must decide on your detention as soon as possible. This must happen the day after your arrest at the latest.