Understanding Probable Cause vs Reasonable Suspicion
The Fourth Amendment protects us against unreasonable searches and seizures. To determine whether law enforcement has an adequate standard of proof to perform a search or seizure can be a particularly complicated question. To protect your rights, not only is it helpful to know how to respond to law enforcement officers seeking to search your person or belongings, but it is also good to know some important details about the basis for these levels of proof. Continue reading to learn the major differences of probable cause vs reasonable suspicion.
In any situation with law enforcement in which you face charges, immediately obtain the assistance of an experienced attorney.
What Constitutes Reasonable Suspicion?
A law enforcement officer has “reasonable suspicion” when there are articulable facts or conditions that would lead a reasonable person to believe that a crime had been committed, is in the process of being committed, or will be committed at some point in the future.
While simply refusing a search will not provide law enforcement with reasonable suspicion, acting nervous and answering questions in an inconsistent manner can sometimes create this level of proof.
For this reason, it is often best to avoid providing answers to law enforcement. If you reveal anything incriminating during an interrogation, it can be used against you.
The Standard of Probable Cause
A law enforcement officer is determined to have probable cause when there are facts or evidence that would cause a reasonable person to believe that a crime has been committed, is in the process of being committed, or will be committed at some time in the future.
In many situations, probable cause means that law enforcement suspects you have committed one certain type of crime and has discovered evidence that supports this perspective. If law enforcement might have probable cause to arrest you, the best way to respond is to avoid waiving your constitutional rights if asked to do so.
Law enforcement sometimes even tries to give misleading statements about what evidence they have to obtain further evidence. The best way to avoid these situations is to always assert your rights.
Defenses Based on the Lack of These Standards
Sometimes, individuals are able to raise defenses based on lack of probable cause or reasonable suspicion. In these situations, a person argues that law enforcement did not have an adequate basis to perform a search or seizure and that as a result, the subsequent search or seizure was not lawfully performed.
Speak with an Experienced Lawyer Today
If you have been involved in a situation in which law enforcement believes that they either had reasonable suspicion or probable cause to conduct a search, you should not hesitate to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. While comparing probable cause vs reasonable suspicion shows that they are different in nature, consulting an expert defense attorney can significantly improve your case.
Consider the Federal Criminal Law Center to obtain the assistance of an experienced lawyer who will remain committed to making sure that you have the strongest legal defense possible to respond to these charges. Contact us now to schedule a free case evaluation.