What’s Probable Cause?
You have most likely heard about probable cause from an officer or a TV show, and it is often confused with reasonable suspicion. Knowing the difference can result in you possibly dismissing your case with no charges.
Probable cause is when an officer, based off their knowledge of the facts, has a reasonable amount of information which they conclude a crime is being committed. This is how officers are able to make an arrest and get search warrants. The Fourth Amendment establishes the people against unlawful search and seizures, so in order for it to be lawful – probable cause has to be present.
Proving probable cause is a trickier matter. If an officer is not able to prove probable cause in making an arrest or the probable cause is not warranted then the charges can be dropped because of the Fourth Amendment.
Reasonable Suspicion is a little more vague. It states that law enforcement officers can question or detain a person if they believe a person has committed or is engaging in criminal activities. This belief has to be based on facts, but it is subjective to the officer’s background and training.
Suspicion is enough to stop you and detain you but it is not enough to search or arrest you. Probable cause is less vague and is required prior to an arrest being made.