The Importance of Probable Cause

Probable cause is probably the most important aspect of a fair and just legal system because it is what protects everyday citizens from being detained for no rhyme or reason. Whether probable cause is brought forth through interrogation, searching, or seized assets, it’s vital to know how probable cause works and the ways it can be legally obtained.

Arrests vs detainment

Many may not know this, but arrests and detainments are considered two different things, and the way that both are determined makes an impact on how probable cause is defined. When someone is arrested, it is because the police have at least enough circumstantial evidence to directly link the suspect to the crime in some capacity. This is different from detainment because no one is actually being charged but you can be detained while simply under suspicion. This is not to say that the police can just detain someone for no reason at all. An example of this could be someone being very disorderly in public may be detained to test for inebriation or being under the influences of something. It is not a guarantee that the suspect is actually doing something illegal but because they disturbed the peace, law enforcement has the right to detain and test whether or not they have broken the law.

When seizing assets is lawful

The seizing of assets can be a hard pill to swallow and some may question what legal authority the police have in confiscating personal belongings, but there are certain situations where this is completely legal. The first scenario is that the suspect has consented to a lawful search of their belongings and something of interest to the case is found. The other way assets can be seized is when a law enforcement agent is in the process of arresting the suspect in which case they are able to seize belongings during this time as potential evidence.

Searches and probable cause

Searches, much like the scenarios for seizing assets are tied to whether or not the suspect gave permission, or if not, the officer was able to obtain a warrant forcing the suspect to allow a search. One other important aspect to this is that at times a court may still accept evidence that otherwise may have been considered illegally obtained if the officer felt it needed to be obtained in the name of public health or national security. However, it is still not a guarantee that it will be permissible.

Overall, there are many options that police have at their disposal to get some type of probable cause but they are still bound under rules and laws that protect the people from unjustified arrests and detainment overall.

Leave a Reply