When you are about to be arrested, probable cause is something that is needed. An arrest warrant needs to be obtained by a judge for very good reasons, which is probable cause. These are circumstances that lead them to believe that you, the suspect, has committed a crime. A police officer can’t just turn and say, “I know you did it because I had a hunch.” That isn’t enough; no, a police officer may sincerely believe that you did something, but can it be proven?
There lies a question in how much information actually equals probable cause. Police officers will need a lot of strong back-up information to convince a judge to issue an arrest warrant or justify a warrantless arrest. Probable cause will always require more than a mere suspicion that a suspect committed a crime. However, it will not be as much information as would be required to prove the suspect guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Courts must look at each case individually to see if there is probable cause for an arrest – this implies that each case will be different and carry various circumstances (Berman).
Probable Cause for Warrants, Arrest, to Search, and to Seize Property
Warrants: Through this process, an officer will approve of an affidavit that states facts as to why probable cause exists to arrest someone. If judges agree that probable cause exists, they will agree to it. However, warrants are not needed if you are being arrested for a felony witnessed in public by a police officer; for instance, if you watched someone get shot. If an arrest happens without a warrant, then probable cause must be shown afterwards in order to prosecute the defendant.
Arrest: Specific facts are required to meet this probable cause and not just an officer’s hunch or suspicion. “Reasonable suspicion” is not enough. If further investigation is required to meet an arrest, then it shall be.
To Search: This exists when facts and circumstances known to the officer provide reasonable basis to believe that a crime took place. This will give reason to search a residence or other place; however, this specific place must be specified in the warrant. Police are allowed to search without a warrant when they have consent from the property owner, when conducting searches connected to an arrest, and in emergency situations.
Seize Property: This exists when facts and circumstances will lead a person to believe that an item is contraband, stolen, or constitutes evidence of a crime. When the warrant is given, police will only be allowed to search for the items stated in the warrant. However, if they come across anything else illegal in nature, they may seize that as well.
So, what is a good example of probable cause? Say that an officer pulls over a car and two occupants for going above the speed limit. The officer searches the car because the driver gives consent and he finds cocaine stashed under a seat. Both of the occupants claim that they had no idea that the cocaine was in the car and they don’t know where it came from. The officer will have probable cause to arrest the occupants. This is because there is no evidence showing that the cocaine belonged to a specific occupant. The officer can then conclude that all of them knew about and possessed the cocaine (Berman).
If you have been involved in a crime or know somebody that has and has become arrested without cause, you should contact an attorney that you can trust. Call The Law Office of Peter Blair to find out more information on where you can turn and what steps you can take in the process. Contact us now available 24/7.