Probable CauseThis phrase seems rather loaded, considering the term “probable” means likely while “cause” refers to reason. It literally means there is likely a reason for a member of law enforcement to arrest without a warrant, a warrantless search and seizure, or a request for an arrest or search warrant. However, what kind of measurement is that? Rarely will a court put a numerical value to how likely it has to be for a warrantless search and seizure to be acceptable under the law. In civil cases, the requirement is a preponderance of the evidence, which is numerically determined that the fact is more likely true than false equaling to anything more than 50%. Based on this requirement, many judicial scholars presume that probable cause is numerically less than the preponderance of the evidence standard.

Probable cause provides law enforcement the ability to use their judgment and provides the opportunity to explain the facts supporting their objective belief that the suspect either committed a crime or that their place or property bears evidence of a crime. This objective belief does not have to in fact be correct; in some instances, receiving false information can lead to an officer arresting someone based on that information alone. The person may be found innocent later because the information the officer relied on was false; at the time the officer had probable cause relying on the information, not aware it was false. An objective belief is much more than a suspicion alone, making it very difficult to determine whether there was adequate probable cause for the warrantless arrest or search in the first place.

Regardless of what the officer may say, the judge hearing the case makes the ultimate decision. In some instances, even if the officer had the objective belief, if the judge reads over the information and does not find his or her own objective belief then he or she can say there was no probable cause.

Though the judge’s final decision that no probable cause existed is helpful to establish your innocence, the initial arrest or search and seizure can have a traumatic impact on you. The arrest may be on your record, and it can later affect you as your apply for jobs or anything that requires a background check. Even if a crime was committed or if you had illegal items found by the warrantless search, if there was not enough probable cause found, you may be off the hook for that crime because they were discovered through illegal means.

Having an experienced attorney on your side will help you fight against the warrantless arrest or search and seizure and can help you get rid of that mark under your good name. Even if you were guilty of the crime, without the sufficient probable cause you may have a good chance of fighting the charges. Give me, defense attorney Leon Matchin, a call today for a free consultation at (732) 662-7658. With a proven track record of success, I am the man for the job.