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The importance of probable cause

On Behalf of | Jun 23, 2021 | Criminal Law

Did you know that Ohio police officers don’t have permission to search your property simply because they’re suspicious? According to applicable law, these officials need either a warrant or probable cause to do so. There are exceptions, however, as is often the case.

Probable cause vs. suspicion vs. certainty

It’s important to note that neither suspicion nor probable cause equal certainty. This means that the officer doesn’t have a burden of proof. However, contrary to what you’ve seen on television, they can’t go through your property or even apply for a warrant if they’re just suspicious. The Fourth Amendment protects you from an “unreasonable” search and seizure of property.

Exploring the reasoning behind probable cause

Of course, there’s some leeway. For example, the officer might argue that any reasonable person would believe you had some involvement in the crime. Criminal law suspects working with a lawyer could have several defenses arising out of this requirement:

  • Refusal to cooperate is not enough for probable cause arrests
  • An officer must know of a crime before detaining someone as a suspect
  • The arresting officer is acting in good faith when making an arrest

It has to be more than just a hunch

In some cases, an officer might allege that they observed someone act guilty or suspicious of committing a crime. They could then suggest that arresting this individual was a common sense approach and a good faith effort to bring a suspect in for questioning. However, if the officer doesn’t have any trustworthy evidence with which to back up this hunch, it’s unlikely that the courts will consider it probable cause.