Criminal defendants in New York and New Jersey will typically run into quite a few legal terms that they are uncertain about. One term that could be crucial in any given case is “probable cause.” What is probable cause and how might this term impact your criminal case?
‘Probable cause’ defined
Probable cause has its roots in the U.S. Constitution, specifically the Fourth Amendment. The term is most commonly used in reference to arrests, searches and seizures – and how people are protected from unreasonable actions by law enforcement officials. However, probable cause can mean different things, depending on the circumstances.
When it comes to an arrest, probable cause is typically established by proof of a reasonable basis to believe that a crime has occurred. For instance, police must have probable cause to believe that a person committed a crime before they can arrest that person.
In a search situation, police need probable cause to believe that evidence of a crime is likely to be found in the place to be searched. For example, to get a warrant, police will have to show a judge that they have probable cause to believe that illegal drugs will be found at a certain residence.
If there is no probable cause, law enforcement officials may have violated the constitutional rights of the defendant in question. When that is the case, the criminal charges might be dismissed or reduced. When criminal defendants in New York or New Jersey have doubts about the presence of probable cause in their cases, they’ll want to get a careful review of their options.