What is probable cause in the arrest context?

On Behalf of | Jan 27, 2016 | Criminal Defense

Michigan residents who are subjected to arrest likely have a lot on their minds. They might be worried about their reputation and the way they are treated by police, but they are also probably concerned about the charges that will be filed against them. These issues are legitimate, as a criminal conviction could lead to lengthy incarceration, devastating fines and a haunting criminal record. With this in mind, those accused of a criminal offense should carefully consider their criminal defense options.

There may be many ways to contest allegations of criminal wrongdoing. Evidentiary and state of limitation issues might arise, giving a defendant a foundation to build a defense, but the arrest itself may be one area to address when developing a defense strategy. When police officers arrest an individual, they must have probable cause. In other words, authorities must have adequate reason. In the arrest context, probable cause exists if, given the circumstances, a reasonable person would believe that the suspect committed, is committing or is about to commit a crime.

This issue is very fact specific, and the matter is often a point of contention. But, why is it wise to challenge probable cause when the opportunity arises? There are many reasons, but one is that arrests often give rise to a subsequent search of an individual’s person and his immediate vicinity. Evidence obtained during this search could be the prosecution’s key to a conviction. However, if an initial arrest was carried out illegally, if there was no probable cause, then that evidence may be deemed inadmissible, barring it from being used against the defendant.

The criminal legal system is fraught with complicated issues like this, which is why it is often in an accused individual’s best interests to get more information about criminal defense options. Doing so may lead to the creation of a sound defense strategy.

Source: FindLaw, “Probable Cause,” accessed on Jan. 22, 2016



FindLaw Network