Difference Between Probable Cause and Reasonable Suspicion

These two terms, reasonable suspicion and probable cause, are often used interchangeably. But the truth is there are two very different legal terms. One gives police officers the right to search Some forms of property, ask questions, and even detain. However, the other is merely a foundation to possibly move forward with a warrant and is usually associated with police harassment and inconvenience.

All criminal charges are likely the result of probable cause or reasonable suspicion, moving an officer to investigate a matter further or begin an interview about the matter. But police officers are still expected to act with then certain codes of conduct, and it’s possible that there may not have been enough probable cause or enough reasonable suspicion for them to act in the way they did.

What is Probable Cause?

The most prolific mention of probable cause within the United States legal system is in the US constitution’s 4th amendment. The 4th amendment protects persons within the United States from unreasonable search or seizure of property; however, it doesn’t clearly define probable cause.

The current system has largely determined probable cause as when it is reasonable that a person is planning, engaging, or has committed a crime. Drug charges arising from common traffic stops are an excellent example of probable cause. For example, if when writing a traffic citation, the officer notices drug paraphernalia or illegal substances within the vehicle they have probable cause of the person having committed criminal activity to either acquire the drugs or The current ongoing criminal activity of possessing illegal substances.

In short probable cause relies on fact. There needs to be some grounding evidence that the person in question was clearly intending to, had committed, or was currently committing a crime.

Reasonable Suspicion and Searches

Where it is important to distinguish between reasonable suspicion and probable cause is that reasonable suspicion does not give a police officer officers the authority to search or seize information or assets. With reasonable suspicion, it may be extremely difficult for that officer to obtain a warrant to search anything much less to make an arrest.

If during your encounter with police, they expressed that they had reasonable suspicion and could search your phone, they may have intentionally misled you.

Charges and Searches Arising From These Two Factors

Facing charges that arose from a search or conversation Should often boil down to probable cause rather than reasonable suspicion. Probable cause gives officers the opportunity to search, seize, and obtained warrants. However, reasonable suspicion doesn’t give them the right to act to that extent of the law.

Although being pulled over or being addressed by police may have started from probable cause or reasonable suspicion, the charges themselves need to be based upon fact. No Arizona police officer should be able to detain And then Move forward with charges based on the likelihood of criminal activity.

Drug charges, violent crime charges, and even DUIs can stem from probable cause. If you’re facing criminal charges, then you should consider involving a criminal defense attorney. A criminal defense attorney will work in your best interest to ensure that you were treated fairly and receive a fair trial.