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Common examples of probable cause 

On Behalf of | Dec 6, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Evidence is key in all criminal cases. For some actions, law enforcement only requires reasonable suspicion that a crime may have been committed. For example, if a car is speeding or veering over the centerline, this would satisfy the reasonable suspicion standard required to conduct a traffic stop. 

For further actions, such as searches and arrests, law enforcement need to show the higher evidentiary standard of probable cause. Outlined below are some common examples of probable cause

Probable cause in traffic cases 

As mentioned, minor traffic infractions provide the reasonable suspicion necessary for traffic stops. However, probable cause is required for officers to conduct searches and arrests. One example of probable cause would be if the driver noticeably slurs their words when talking to the officer. Any kind of drug paraphernalia or open alcohol containers within the vehicle would also satisfy the probable cause requirement. 

The live commission of a crime 

Occasionally, a police officer will stumble upon a crime during its commission. Or, a much more likely scenario is that the officer has been called to an area after a report of suspicious activity. 

For example, the officer may have been called to a store after reports of a shopper acting suspiciously. If the accused is threatening to rob the store or is in clear possession of a firearm, this would give the officer the required probable cause to make an arrest. 

Probable cause for home searches 

Generally, law enforcement must have a valid search warrant to conduct a property search. Nonetheless, a warrant may not be necessary if the officer has probable cause. For example, if the officer has been called because of a domestic violence allegation, and someone answers the door with obvious injuries, this could provide the probable cause necessary to search the house and arrest the accused.  

Establishing probable cause is not always straightforward, and it is necessary for arrests. If you’re facing charges and believe that probable cause was not present in your case, seek legal guidance to explore your defense options.