Exploring Probable Cause

In America, the police cannot just pick and choose a person, home, or vehicle at random and decide they want to question and search for anything illegal. They must have probable cause, and so it is very important for people to understand what probable cause actually is and how it could apply to them. Keep in mind that houston dwi defense attorney will explain things like this to you when you come for your initial consultation, and it could be a vital part of your case when law enforcement individuals do not follow the law to the letter.

Definition Of Probable Cause

Put simply, the rule of probable cause applies to law enforcement individuals as a whole, from police officers to detectives, those administering Breathalyzer and similar tests, DNA examiners, and anyone working on the behalf of the police department and similar organizations.

To describe probable cause in layman’s terms, it is the reasoning behind any search, request for a warrant, line of questioning, and so on. The police are forced to give account for any warrant they ask for, such as one to search your home, for any arrest they make, for the seizure of any property belonging to you, and for any questions they ask (outside of being pleasant or asking for identification during a traffic stop). They do have a right to protect themselves, such as by asking you if you have anything dangerous on your person when you are pulled over for a traffic citation, but aside from that probable cause will apply.

Application of Probable Cause

The police need a valid reason to believe that you could have committed a specific crime, such as eyewitness testimony, their own ability to view the commission of the crime, an anonymous tip, video surveillance, or matching a description given by officer dispatch. In other words, they have to tell a judge why they felt the need to search or question you, your property, or to get a warrant for your arrest. Without probable cause, the search, any seizure, and even the arrest could be deemed illegal and charges would have to be dropped unless other evidence exists.

When it is discovered that probable cause does not exist, evidence in your criminal case may be suppressed. Any evidence that is found as a result of an unlawful arrest is also suppressed, even if it is valid evidence that should otherwise have been admitted against you (or on your behalf) in court. This includes weapons used during the commission of a crime, signed or unsigned confessions, and other types of key evidence.

This information is provided solely for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice.