If you’re ever stopped by the police, something you should understand is the probable cause requirement. This requirement is one that an officer has to meet before they obtain a warrant, conduct a search, seize your property or make an arrest.
Probable cause means that the police have more than a suspicion that you’ve committed a crime. They need to show that they have probable cause before they can search you thanks to the Fourth Amendment, which makes it so that all citizens are free from unreasonable searches and seizures.
Do the police need probable cause to get a warrant?
Yes. The police do need to have cause to ask for a warrant. They will need to sign an affidavit that states what the reason is for searching or seizing property. In the case of an arrest warrant, the officer has to show that there is an adequate reason to arrest the individual who is listed on that warrant request.
Are warrants always needed to arrest someone or to search their property?
No. Sometimes, there are cases where warrants aren’t necessary, such as if a felony is witnessed in action by an officer. An officer may make an arrest if they witness a crime, but they will still have to prove that they had probable cause in the future. If they cannot, then the defendant has a better opportunity to defend against the charges they face.
Do traffic stops require probable cause?
No. Traffic stops only require reasonable suspicion, which doesn’t require as much evidence or support. Reasonable suspicion can be as simple as seeing a car go in and out of its lane, which then prompts a traffic stop for a traffic violation or safety check. Temporary detentions only require reasonable suspicion, which is something to be aware of if you’re stopped because an officer believes that criminal activities are taking place or that you’ve violated the law.
It’s important for you to understand your rights in cases involving probable cause or reasonable suspicion, so you can defend yourself. Good knowledge on these topics may help you avoid legal trouble.