Probable cause is more than a mere suspicion or inkling that a suspect committed a crime, but it’s not an absolute certainty. In establishing probable cause, according to nolo.com, law enforcement must be able to point to objective circumstances that lead to them believing a suspect committed a crime.
The police must have sufficient knowledge of facts or evidence to believe a crime has been or will be committed to justify an investigation. Any arrests made must be based on probable cause.
The test is if a judge examines the same information and disagrees with the police officer, probable cause will not likely exist, and the charges will be dropped.
What is Reasonable Suspicion?
Probable cause relies on objective circumstances, while reasonable suspicion is based on an inclination or presumption that a crime has been, is being, or will be committed. Say, for example, a person is walking in a high-crime area and starts running as they see a police officer approaching—law enforcement might find this suspicious behavior and stop them.
For example, a person might drop a suspicious object, such as a clear plastic bag with white pills. A police officer, through an “investigatory stop,” might confiscate the item and detain the person as they investigate the substance to ensure it’s not an illegal drug. They can use this information to later charge them with a crime if it’s an illegal drug.
Whether reasonable suspicion or probable cause, police officers must always follow proper protocol when investigating possible criminal activity and making an arrest.
What are a Police Officer’s Rights?
Police officers have the broadest authority to perform a search with the following information and in this order: search warrant, probable cause, and reasonable suspicion.
Law enforcement needs reasonable suspicion to stop an individual and question them. As an example of reasonable doubt, if you are driving under the influence and you are swerving on the road, weaving in and out of lanes, or recklessly speeding, law enforcement can pull you over, ask questions and perform a field sobriety test if their reasonable suspicion is accurate.
An unreasonable search, as it can be challenging to know the difference, is a search executed without a legal search warrant or lack of probable cause. If you believe you have been arrested by law enforcement that did not follow proper guidelines, contact our law firm to see how we can help and possibly get your charges dropped.
How Can an Attorney Help?
Under the Fourth Amendment, people are protected from unreasonable searches or seizures without probable cause.
Probable cause or reasonable suspicion is used to create evidence in a case. This evidence will partly help the prosecution convict you of criminal activity if they can prove reasonable doubt.
Our legal firm is knowledgeable in criminal defense cases, and we can step in if you are under investigation for any criminal matter. Suppose you were arrested and charged with a crime without a search warrant, reasonable suspicion, or probable cause. In that case, it’s wise to consider the help of an attorney to evaluate your charges.
Contact our law firm at 513-548-5544 to evaluate your case through a free consultation and provide legal support, guidance, and strategic defense to help minimize your charges or get your charges dropped.