Basics of Probable Cause
Police officers must have probable cause in order to take a particular action, such as to arrest you. If you can show that the police officer did not have probable cause and arrested you anyways or carried out a search and seizure that was illegal, you may be able to use this information in your criminal defense.
Probable cause requires more than a suspicion that a person committed a crime, but it also does not go so far as to mandate that the officer has absolute certainty that the person committed a crime. Probable cause is one of the most common issues in the arrest procedure.
Representatives of the police have to maintain probable cause in order to get an arrest warrant handed down by a judge or to make an arrest. In order to show probable cause, police officers have to be able to appoint to objective circumstances that led the officers to suspect that the suspect in question committed a crime. Nothing such as a hunch or a gut instinct qualifies as probable cause. Judges and not the officers themselves will have the final say on whether or not probable cause exists in a particular case.
A police officer might be sincere in sharing his or her concerns that they believe that the person in question did indeed commit a crime, but if a judge evaluates the same exact information and arrives at a different conclusion, this can be challenged in a legal case. Probable cause could be established when the suspect was arrested even if the defendant wasn’t doing anything at that moment.
The most difficult question to address in terms of probable cause is how much information constitutes it. Probable cause means more than a suspicion, but not as many details as would be necessary to prove the suspect guilty in court by meeting the beyond a reasonable doubt requirement.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney/client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.