What Is Probable Cause?
The phrase “probable cause” comes from the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which states protects citizens against unreasonable and unlawful search and seizure “but upon probable cause.” It requires a police officer to have a warrant from a judge, or at least the strong belief that a person has committed a crime, before making an arrest.
This means that the police cannot make an arrested based on suspicion—they need factual evidence. The following categories describe what can be considered fact when looking for probable cause:
- Statements: These can be given by victims of a crime, or witnesses to the crime. It can also include announcements from police describing the characteristics of a suspect.
- Expert Opinion: People with special training in identifying suspicious body language, gang activity, criminal patterns, etc. can evaluate the probability that a suspect is guilty of a certain crime.
- Circumstantial Evidence: This is evidence that suggests that someone has committed a crime, but cannot alone prove it.
- Observations: This is when a police officer directly sees, hears, or smells something suspicious.
The San Jose & Santa Clara criminal defense attorneys at the Law Office of Daniel Jensen, P.C., strongly believe that everyone has a right to a fair defense. If you or someone you love has been accused of a felony or misdemeanor contact us today at (408) 296-4100 to schedule a consultation. Our skilled and experienced lawyers will fight vigorously to protect your legal rights and freedom, so do not delay.