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A suspect is a person who is believed to have committed a crime, but has not yet been found guilty. If a suspect received an arrest warrant, they might then be identified as a defendant; and after the suspect was convicted or found guilty, they would be called an offender.

According to the 4th Amendment, a suspect has the right to be free from unlawful seizures which include arrests. Publicly arresting a suspect will not require a warrant; however, if the arrest happens in the house of the suspect under a non-emergency situation, the police officer needs to request a warrant from the judge or magistrate. According to the 5th Amendment, the suspect has the right to not incriminate themselves and must be given a Miranda Warning during a custodial interrogation. The suspect has to invoke their Miranda Rights clearly and unambiguously, or the police have no obligation to stop the questioning of the suspect, according to Berghuis v. Thompkins, 560 U.S. 370 (2010).

[Last updated in May of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]