What Constitutes “Probably Cause” for an Arrest?
You’ve heard it said that a police officer can’t arrest a person without probable cause. There must be probable cause in order to conduct a search or seize property. Do you know what probably cause is?
The term comes from the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Within that Amendment, it states:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be searched.”
What Is Probably Cause for an Arrest?
When it comes to arresting someone, police must first have a reason to believe that the person they are arresting committed, is about to commit or is committing a crime. Probable cause must arise from specific circumstances and facts. In other words, police can’t act on a hunch or “go with their gut.” An officer must have facts that if provided to a reasonable person, would lead that person to believe someone was planning or had committed a crime.
Temporary detentions do not require probable cause. To detain someone, a police officer only needs reasonable suspicion. This is a suspicion that further investigation is warranted to determine whether or not criminal activity was taking or is about to take place. It is not a lie to say that arrests are often spawned from temporary detentions. It can be difficult to say where the line is between reasonable suspicion and probable cause.
What Happens if I’m Wrongly Arrested?
If a person believes that they have been arrested without probable cause, they may choose to file a lawsuit for false arrest. If the case proceeds, that person may file a lawsuit for malicious prosecution.
In essence, probable cause refers to the amount of information the police need to arrest someone. Police also need this specific amount of information to search a person or property or to seize property. When the police don’t behave as they are legally bound to, a person may choose to seek redress through a civil lawsuit.
Being charged with a crime is a stressful event. It would be fair to say that an above average number of those arrested have actually committed a crime, but many people are arrested after having done nothing wrong. If you believe that you were arrested without probable cause, you have legal avenues you may choose to pursue.
If you have been arrested in Atlanta and charged with a crime, call our office. A member of our experienced team will review the details of your case and help you determine your next steps. Reach out to our team today and schedule a free case evaluation. We will discuss your arrest and charges and help you make the best decisions for your situation.