Imagine a scenario in which you were involved in something that might have constituted a crime. Everyone is okay, and all is well, but there was some damage to property. You were talking with friends about it at the bar when an officer overheard you.
Can they arrest you for committing a crime? They didn’t see it, so do they have probable cause?
Admitting to a crime could lead to an arrest
The first thing to know is that admitting to a crime could lead to an arrest in some cases. For example, if you admit that you damaged property and didn’t tell anyone, an officer that overhears you could detain you to talk to you about what happened and, potentially, arrest you for being involved. After all, you just admitted to a criminal act, and that could warrant an investigation.
This isn’t always going to be the case, but if you are at the wrong place at the wrong time and an officer hears you admit to being drunk, high or otherwise in violation of the law, you could end up being arrested.
Probable cause plays a role in cases like yours
Remember that as long as a police officer has probable cause they can detain or arrest you. They will not need to get a warrant, because they have reason to believe that you’ve been involved in criminal activity.
So, if you don’t want to get arrested for driving while impaired and damaging your neighbor’s property, you probably shouldn’t talk about it when you’re out in public where you could get caught (and, of course, you should approach the neighbor to offer to repay them for damage due to an accident to avoid them pressing charges).
If there isn’t evidence, an officer may not go as far as arresting you, but they still could. After the arrest, you may want to look into building up a defense, because the prosecuting attorney may feel that the case is not strong enough. In that situation, you’d have a good chance of defending yourself and getting the charges dropped since there isn’t any real evidence to use against you.