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What is probable cause?

On Behalf of | Aug 2, 2022 | Criminal Defense

Under the Constitution, the police must take specific steps when conducting an investigation. If any of these gets overlooked or ignored, your criminal charge may wind up discharged before it even moves forward.

One of the most crucial elements of an investigation is probable cause. It sets the stage for every other action and reaction the police make. This standard may not hold up in court in some cases. It may help to understand what it means and when it does and does not add up.

What is probable cause?

Under the legal definition, probable cause is a justification for police to conduct other elements of an investigation, such as searching you, your property and even making an arrest. The police must have solid reasons, or probable cause, for believing you committed a crime no one saw you commit. For example, in a DUI case, the police may feel like an open liquor bottle on the floor in plain sight rises to probable cause for your arrest. In other instances, probable cause may hinge on other elements, such as you fitting a description at a time and place a crime occurred.

How do police prove it?

The police need to prove to the court, either before getting a warrant or defending that warrant in court, that probable cause existed. The court does not always accept an officer’s reasoning for believing probable cause dictated actions against you. Unless the police can show that they had viable evidence of your involvement in a crime, the judge may dismiss the search and everything that happened after.

If you suspect the police case against you is shaky, you may want to consult with a professional well-versed in dealing with civil rights violations.