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A murder arrest is an arrest on the suspicion of murder, usually in accordance with an arrest warrant. When someone is arrested for murder, it does not necessarily mean that she or he has committed the crime. Rather, it means that she or he is accused of the murder, and is being arrested in order to face trial. Arrests are often reported in the media, especially when a case is high profile, so that members of the public can follow the legal proceedings, as they are often a topic of interest.
As a general rule, a murder arrest must be executed by a police officer. However, if civilians witness a murder, they may detain the murderer in a citizen's arrest until police arrive. The legality of citizen's arrests varies, depending on the setting, and citizens are usually advised to avoid endangering themselves when they attempt to detain someone; for example, if a murderer has a weapon, it is not safe to conduct a citizen's arrest.
More commonly, a formal arrest warrant is issued for someone after investigators demonstrate that they believe that they know the identity of a murderer, or in cases in which the murder was witnessed and witnesses have identified the killer. A police officer serves the warrant, taking the accused to jail for processing. The accused may be held in jail or released on bail after the murder arrest, depending on the ruling of a judge.
Many nations have specific rules in place which must be followed when an arrest is made, including a murder arrest. If these rules are not followed, the arrest may be deemed unlawful, and the accused could potentially challenge it in court later. Police officers must be careful to observe the rights of the person they are arresting, and to document the arrest carefully so that questions in the future can be answered from the record.
Once someone has been accused and arrested of murder, she or he may opt to retain legal counsel, if this has not been done already. In some areas of the world, counsel will be appointed if the accused cannot afford a lawyer. A lawyer will assist the accused as he or she navigates the criminal justice system, ensuring that the rights of the accused are protected and that a fair trial is received. It is advisable to retain a criminal defense attorney who specializes in cases like murder in the wake of a murder arrest, rather than using a lawyer who specializes in another area of the law.