You have likely heard the term “probable cause” in reference to a police investigation. Probable cause is a legal standard that allows the government to search and seize. Let's take a closer look at what probable cause entails.
Probable cause has been defined as: “where known facts and circumstances, of a reasonably trustworthy nature, are sufficient to justify a man of reasonable caution or prudence in the belief that a crime has been or is being committed.”
This means probable cause requires more than just suspicion, it requires factual evidence.
Most probable cause cases come from one of the four major categories.
* Circumstantial Evidence. As we said earlier, probable cause requires evidence. Circumstantial evidence that suggests a crime has occurred but does not prove it, is grounds for probable cause.
* Expertise. This relates to the inherent skills and experience of the police officer(s) involved. These skills may include the ability to spot a gang related tattoo, or knowledge of items that could be used in a burglary.
* Information. This broad category includes the information provided to police by witnesses or victims. Announcements through bulletins or media articles and tips from informants also fall into this category.
* Observation. Observation probable cause commonly appears in DWI cases. Observation includes what the officer sees, senses or smells while on scene. This information can also include actions that qualify as suspicious or criminal behaviors by those the officer interacts with.
Some examples of probable cause are deemed more trustworthy than others, but police must have some form of probable cause to place an individual in custody or under arrest. If they do not, any evidence obtained cannot be used against a defendant in court.
If you believe you were searched or arrested without probable cause, you need experienced legal counsel. Contact Attorney Eric J. Olson for vigorous defense and unrivaled results.