What is probable cause?

by | Jun 3, 2020 | Uncategorized

Under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, probable cause is required for the police to have performed a valid arrest or conduct a valid search and seizure, incident to a potential crime. To establish probable cause, the police must show that it was more likely than not that the alleged infraction occurred. The ability to successfully challenge the police’s probable cause can be challenging but is possible with a well thought out strategy.

A police officer must have probable cause to obtain a warrant. In other words, a judge will only issue a warrant if the totality of the circumstances shows the officer has sufficient reason to believe a crime has been committed. Once the officer obtains a valid warrant, based on the presence of probable cause, they may arrest the alleged perpetrator or search and/or seize property.

If an officer does not have a warrant, they still must have probable cause to arrest someone or conduct a search and seizure. However, if the police is merely stopping a vehicle or temporarily detaining an individual, reasonable suspicion is sufficient. Reasonable suspicion basically means that any reasonable person would suspect that criminal activity occurred. This differs from probable cause, in that probable cause requires that nay reasonable police officer would suspect criminal activity.

A skilled criminal defense attorney in Fort Collins with the help of a skilled criminal defense can undermine the state’s allegations of probable cause by showing that the alleged infraction should not have been discovered by police without an illegal search. That is both violative of the principles espoused by the police department and the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.