Uses of Probable Cause That Are Illegal
- Pulling Drivers Over Without Probable Cause is Illegal
The cops cannot just pull anyone over on the road. Before making a traffic stop, police regulations demand that an officer have reasonable grounds to believe that a violation has occurred.
If an officer suspects a motorist of driving while intoxicated based on erratic lane changes, excessive speeds, and unpredictable braking or running red lights, for example, he or she may have sufficient cause to stop the vehicle under suspicion of DUI.
If the motorist was staying in his lane and driving at reasonable speeds, the officer would have no cause to pull him over, and any accusations against him might be thrown out based on an improper traffic stop. This is a valid defense in DUI cases where police officers used field sobriety tests without reasonable cause.
- Unlawful Arrest Warrants are Being Served
In two situations, police can arrest individuals: when they observe someone commit a crime and when they have an arrest warrant. A police officer may lawfully arrest someone if she sees that person run out of a business with a handful of cash and a gun.
If the officer reaches the site of the robbery after it has occurred and only has witness testimonies to go on, they will need to undertake a comprehensive investigation before making an arrest. They must also contact a district attorney to petition a court for an arrest warrant. Only after obtaining an arrest warrant can they go ahead and apprehend the designated culprit.
A warrantless arrest is not foolproof. The name of the suspect, the charges he or she is facing, the amount of bail sought for those charges, which court issued the warrant, when it was issued, and a judge’s signature are all required components of an arrest warrant.
If there is any information that isn’t included, the warrant might be invalid. In addition, police officers must have probable cause to issue an arrest warrant. The arrest warrant can be rendered invalid if the probable cause was based on false facts or lies.
- Performing Unlawful Searches and Seizures
Searches, seizures, and arrests are based on probable cause. An officer may only search a home or vehicle if there is sufficient cause to believe a criminal act has occurred, and in some instances, search warrants must be obtained, which are also justified on the basis of probable cause.
For instance, if an officer looks through a truck’s window and sees a brick of heroin, he or she has probable cause to search the vehicle because of the “plain view” doctrine.
The minor doctrine allows the officer to search a vehicle without requiring strong probable cause, such as the presence of a controlled substance detected by a K9. Otherwise, a search warrant would be necessary. If an officer collects evidence as a result of an illegal search and seizure, that evidence may be ruled inadmissible in a trial and the case may be dismissed.
- Failing to Read Miranda Rights.
The Miranda Rights are some of the most robust safeguards available to someone being detained. They ensure you have the right to silence, counsel, and the understanding that anything you say may be used against you in court.
Police must read all defendants their Miranda rights, and once a defendant has done so, officers must comply with those provisions. Minors under the age of 16 also have additional defenses. Minors 15 years old or younger can only waive their Miranda Rights after consulting with a lawyer, for example.
It may be a breach of due process if an officer fails to inform a defendant of his or her rights under Miranda.
Probable Cause and Kirakosian Law
If you feel that your rights have been violated due to an illegal use of “probable cause”, talk to an attorney as soon as possible. At Kirakosian Law, we stand up to government entities when there’s evidence of misconduct by our civic leaders and members of law enforcement. We have no problem taking cases to federal court.
And if we can’t reach an appropriate settlement through mediation, we are fully prepared to take civil cases to trial. We handle civil rights cases, including:
- Police misconduct
- Malicious prosecution
- Wrongful arrest
If you or someone you know has suffered emotional distress or injury due to a civil rights violation, contact our attorney at Kirakosian Law APC for a free consultation.