Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1970 NO. 2 >

(1) The provisions of the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution are applicable to any detention of a person for investigation of suspected criminal conduct irrespective of whether or not the detention amounts to an arrest or not; however, such a temporary detention is not a violation of the 4th Amendment if the officers acted upon specific and articulable facts which would "warrant a man of reasonable caution in the belief that the action taken was appropriate"; in other words, the officers may act on something less than "probable cause," but they may not act simply on the basis of good faith based upon nothing more substantial than "inarticulate hunches." (2) A police officer who has temporarily detained a person for investigation of suspected criminal conduct without making a formal arrest is not required to warn the detained person of his constitutional rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 486, 16 L.Ed. 2d 694, 86 S.Ct. 1602 (1966), until the initial suspicions which led the officer to make the "stop" are transformed into "probable cause" to believe the person confronted has committed an offense or until the suspect has a reasonable basis in fact to believe that he is under arrest (i.e., in custody of the police and not free to leave); at either of these points, the required warnings must be given in order to insure the admissibility in evidence of any incriminating statements thereafter made by the suspect.

AGO 1974 NO. 3 >

A person suspected of committing a crime must be warned of his constitutional rights as an individual under the rule of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 16 L.Ed. 2d 694, 86 S.Ct. 1602 (1966), before interrogation in those instances where, even though no formal arrest (with or without a warrant) has been made, the investigating officers have established in their minds a "probable cause" to believe that this person has committed a crime and have "focused in" on a further specific investigation of him on that basis.

AGO 1974 NO. 7 >

A municipal peace officer may not execute a warrant issued by a municipal court under RCW 3.50.180 outside of the territorial boundaries of the peace officer's municipality.

AGLO 1977 NO. 16 >

(1) Mere sounds, as distinguished from verbal conversation, occurring in connection with an event where a police officer is issuing a citation to a citizen on a public street do not constitute "private conversations" within the meaning of RCW 9.73.030(2).

(2) Verbal conversations occurring in connection with such an event may fall within the scope of a "private conversation" depending upon whether the factual circumstances are such as to indicate that at least one of the conversants reasonably intended that the conversation was to be for the ears of the participants only.

(3) The fact that the parties to a "private conversation" are aware that such conversation is being recorded does not constitute "consent" for the purposes of RCW 9.73.030(2) except to the limited extent provided for therein with respect to certain recordings by the news media.

AGO 1984 NO. 24 >

Where a county sheriff makes one or more unsuccessful attempts to serve (or execute) an arrest warrant which is later cancelled or expires without having been successfully executed, and the sheriff makes a return of "not found" in order to show his efforts to execute the warrant, the sheriff is then entitled to a fee of five dollars "for making a return" plus a mileage fee, as provided for in RCW 36.18.040.

AGO 1957 NO. 35 >

A citizen may arrest any person whom he observes committing the crime of petit larceny in his presence. An officer may not arrest a person, without a warrant, on information or suspicion for a misdemeanor not committed in his presence.

AGO 1951 NO. 74 >

A reasonably strict interpretation should be given the phrase "in his presence" and a citation may be issued only when an officer is apprised by his senses that a violation or offense is at that time being committed.

AGO 1958 NO. 196 >

A state probation officer may arrest a probation violator without a warrant, but it is his duty to take him with reasonable promptness before the court granting the probation for disposition; and if for any reason he cannot be disposed of by the court at that time, his right to further detention is dependent upon the issuance of a warrant.  The sheriff, as custodian of the jail, may, but is not required to, detain a probationer arrested without a warrant by a state probation officer for a parole violation.