What you should know about Probable Cause

Best Syracuse Lawyers Criminal Attorneys Zukher VanStry…Then they searched me. Can they DO that? What about probable cause?
What is probable cause?

What you should know about search and seizure

When the government obtains evidence against a defendant in violation of her/his constitutional rights, that evidence may be suppressed, and therefore not introduced at trial by the prosecution. This rule is derived from the US Constitution. The defendant in such a situation is entitled to a pretrial suppression hearing. At the hearing, the defendant will generally not testify, only the police officers will give testimony. A person is not generally entitled to a pretrial suppression hearing regarding admissibility of evidence. A hearing may be granted by the court after a showing by the defendant that a constitutional violation of a defendant’s search and seizure rights took place.

There are endless scenarios with regard to the application of the search and seizure analysis. The analysis is different and can change based on the smallest facts individual to your case. If you are charged with a crime, you must immediately seek the advice of an experienced attorney who works everyday to help people protect their rights to ensure the most favorable outcome possible in your case.

Among the types of evidence that a prosecutor may offer against a defendant at trial are tangible (such as drugs seized), observations of police officers, identifications by witnesses, and statements or confessions obtained from the defendant. Each of these may be subject to suppression if improperly obtained by the police. When evidence was arguably obtained in an unconstitutional manner, the defense recourse is to move to suppress. The object of the motion is to suppress the evidence (exclude its admission at trial). If the prosecution disputes the defense assertion, a suppression hearing is held.

There are four levels of permissible police intrusion, and each has it’s own requirement to determine whether the police intrusion is justified. Level I, is the least intrusive level, and is called a “request for information.” This level requires an objective and credible reason for the police to approach an individual that is not necessarily indicative of criminality. Questions permissible at this level include identity, address or destination.

A Level II inquiry is referred to as the “common law right of inquiry.” In order for the police to intrude at this level, founded suspicion that criminal activity is afoot is required. At this level, an officer is entitled to interfere with the citizen to the extent necessary to gain explanatory information, but may not forcibly seize the individual. This type of questioning would lead the person approached to reasonably believe that he or she is suspected of some wrongdoing and is the focus of the approaching officer’s investigation.

A Level III, detainment and frisk, requires the police to have reasonable suspicion that criminal activity has or will be committed. The police may forcibly pursue and/or stop and detain an individual, that is, significantly impede that person’s freedom of movement. Reasonable suspicion is defined as that amount of knowledge sufficient to cause an ordinarily prudent and cautious person to believe, under the circumstances, that criminal activity is at hand.

Lastly, a Level IV, warrantless arrest, is the highest level of police intrusion. This can only be done when there is “probable cause” to believe that the person has committed a crime, even if the crime was not committed in the officer’s presence.

If you should have any questions about a particular matter and your charges are in Onondaga, Oneida, Madison, or Jefferson County, don’t hesitate to call us at 315-701-2939 or find us on the web at bestsyracuselawyers.com for a free initial consultation. See related articles:

What are my rights if I am stopped, searched, or arrested by police?

Drugs in a car are Everyones Drugs- The Automobile Presumption

DWI Charges Refusal Tickets

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11 thoughts on “What you should know about Probable Cause

  1. When I get pulled over, I inform any officers looking into my vehicle (ie: searching through my windows with a flashlight, or bending over to peer into windows that are not the window I am in), that I don’t consent to a search of any kind. My understanding is that they have a right to look and see if anyone else is in the car and if they are a threat, but they don’t have permission to randomly look all around the car for the purposes of “finding” something wrong or illegal. Am I wrong?

    • on behalf of YourLawyerYourLife says:

      There are certain rules and instances where the police are allowed to search your car without a warrant. Specifically, the police can only conduct a search of your car without a warrant if a car’s passenger compartment is within reach of a suspect and the officers have some legitimate fear for their safety. The vehicle may also be searched if there is a reason to believe evidence will be found of the crime that led to the initial arrest. It is not necessary to refuse to a search up front. Although the police can look in your vehicle and seize any contraband in plain view, the police and the People in a prosecution have the burden to show consent, which must be shown by “clear and convincing evidence” the toughest standard under the law. You should also know this, your refusal up front to any police officer will do nothing other than entice them to search your vehicle.

      Thank you,

      David E. Zukher Esq.

  2. […] What you should know about Probable Cause […]

  3. […] What you should know about Probable Cause […]

  4. […] What you should know about Probable Cause […]

  5. […] not always agree with the trial court’s interpretation of the law regarding issues regarding probable cause and suppression for illegal or over-reaching searches by the police.  If you take a plea, you may […]

  6. […] What you should know about Probable Cause […]

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