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Probable Cause

During criminal cases, this legal principle can make all the difference: probable cause!

What is Probable Cause?

Before law enforcement can make an arrest, they must have probable cause. Probable Cause means that officers have a very objective circumstance that suggests criminal activity. If an officer finds hard evidence of a crime, they have probable cause as well. This is important because it ensures that the officers cannot make arrests based on a bad feeling. They MUST find substantial proof of a crime to even get a warrant or proceed with an investigation.

An Example of Probable Cause

Two officers are patrolling a nearby street, when they notice an individual carrying a large duffle bag. As the person is running, they trip and fall to the ground dropping the bag, which splits open and reveals a lot of jewelry pieces. The officer then get's a call over the radio stating that a local pawn shop was robbed.

At this point the officer has enough information to sufficiently say that the individual they saw running from the direction of the shop with a duffle bag full of jewelry, is probably the perpetrator. Because of that, he has probable cause and can proceed with an arrest.

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