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What Is Probable Cause?

Probable cause is the legal standard by which a police officer has the right to make an arrest, obtain a warrant for an arrest, or conduct a personal or property search. While police officers have the authority to do a number of different things in various situations, probable cause requires facts or evidence that would cause a reasonable person to suspect that someone has committed a crime.

For example, if a person is swerving on the road and committing other driving errors late at night, a police officer would have probable cause to pull that driver over to check his or her blood alcohol content (BAC). However, if the person was driving in a reasonable manner, the officer pulled the driver over, and the officer then asked the person to get out of the car without any other suspicion of illegal activity, the law enforcement official does not have probable cause to harass the individual.

There are certain situations where police do need a warrant to search you or your property. If they are conducting a murder investigation, for instance, they would need sufficient evidence before a judge will let them search your home if you are under suspicion.

Vehicle regulations are little looser, however. If an officer sees an illegal object through your window, that is considered probable cause to search the rest of the car. If the officer doesn’t have probable cause to search your car, and you refuse to consent to a search, any evidence collected from your car afterward can’t be used against you in court; the officer would have conducted an illegal search by violating your Fourth Amendment rights.

If you are under investigation or are accused of a crime, don’t hesitate to give our skilled Reno criminal defense attorney a call. Attorney Ken Stover has been practicing law for more than 20 years and is dedicated to defending the rights and freedoms of his clients. As a former prosecutor, he understands how the opposition thinks and is likely to take a case. Make sure to give yourself the best chance of protecting your future by talking to the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Stover.

Contact us at (775) 502-1575 or fill out our online form to schedule a free case consultation with us today.