Why probable cause matters

Why probable cause matters 1

During a time when any type of arrest or detainment is happening, probable cause is a vital component in assuring that law enforcement is following the constitution and only holding citizen where is cause to believe that they have broken a law. While the parameters of probable cause may be different in various situations, here are the basics of what you need to know.

The difference between arrest and detainment

One main thing that many might not know is that the definitions of arrest and detainment are very different and because of that, probable cause will be different as well. When it comes to arrest, a law enforcement officer must have some type of evidence, whether the first-person account or enough circumstantial evidence that charges can be pressed. With detainment, it is different because there aren’t any charges brought forth at first but merely a suspicion. Because of this, they can proceed to do tests and ask questions but they don’t necessarily have the same tools and rights for searching and interrogating as they would if the suspect was actually under custody. An example of detainment would be someone who is under the suspicion of being drunk while driving may not be arrested right away, but the officer does have the right to detain and test to see if the BAC is at the legal limits before letting them go.

When seizing assets is illegal

Seizing property often happens during a search or times of arrest but it is important to know that unless the law enforcement officer has a warrant or the suspect is in the process of being arrested, you have the right to decline a search until a warrant is actually obtained and that keeps them from seizing property in the meantime.

Your rights during a search

As said in the previous section, searches require consent to be considered constitutional unless a warrant is obtained. There is a major caveat to this, however. If a search is warranted by the officer because they feel it is necessary for the name of public health or national security, they may be able to still consider any evidence gathered as permissible in court even without a warrant but it is not a guarantee.

To sum up, law enforcement has many tools that help them obtain probable cause but citizens still have rights upheld by the constitution to ensure that those powers can not be used without accountability or laws to protect from arrest without just cause.

In conclusion, an arrest or seizing of property is not something that can be done easily or just on suspicion alone. To protect citizens an investigation has to occur and there must be some type of fact-based evidence to actually go through with restricting these civil liberties.


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