The term “probable cause” is thrown around a lot in courtroom movie scenes and television series. However, in the real world, it is frequently misunderstood and misinterpreted. Trusting in the knowledge and expertise of a criminal defense attorney in Clemson, South Carolina will help you to have a clear understanding of the role that probable cause plays in your specific case.
Below is an overview of the term and the significant role it plays in general.
How a Criminal Defense Attorney Defines “Probable Cause”
According to the South Carolina law code, “probable cause” is a constitutional right that allows people to feel safe and protected against unreasonable searches and seizures. A popular misconception is that the badge or job title of a law enforcement officer is all that is needed to gain free access to searching or seizing your property or even putting you under arrest.
This is not the case. Officers usually need a warrant, your consent, or probable cause. In simple terms, probable cause means police have reasonable grounds to believe a crime has been committed or that a search will uncover evidence of a crime.
Types of Warrants
A search warrant is typically required before a law enforcement official searches (whenever possible). However, a search warrant is not needed in all situations if there is substantial probable cause present – such as when searching a vehicle with visible paraphernalia inside during a traffic stop.
An arrest warrant is typically required before being dispatched to arrest someone when possible and practical. The probable cause must clearly show the likelihood of a criminal offense being committed before the warrant can be issued.
If probable cause cannot be established or proven valid, then your criminal defense attorney could argue the point that the probable cause requirement was not met. If that requirement was not met, then any evidence collected during the search and seizure could be deemed inadmissible and invalid.
Is a Warrant Always Required?
There are some scenarios in which a warrant is not required for a search or arrest. For instance, if the officer has enough probable cause to assume that a person is committing or has committed a crime, a warrant is not necessary.
When dispatched to a residence, a police officer may enter the home if it is “reasonably necessary” to prevent physical danger or harm from coming to someone within the household. Any evidence that is discovered as a result of these types of warrantless searches is admissible in court.
Stay in contact with your attorney with regular updates – especially if your property is searched and/or seized with or without a warrant. Doing so will help your Clemson defense attorney protect your constitutional rights while also minimizing the chances of additional or more severe charges being filed against you.
How Can I Avoid Having My Vehicle Searched?
A simple traffic stop for a speeding ticket can easily escalate into a more serious charge or even an official search of the vehicle if the window of probable cause is opened. What steps can you take to minimize the chances of a vehicle search?
Keep your insurance and registration up-to-date.
Expired tags or insurance coverage could lead to your vehicle being impounded – which means that your vehicle could be searched and inventoried without your presence or permission.
Keep sensitive items out of plain sight.
Be mindful of what is visible inside your car from an outside perspective. For instance, pay close attention to what can be seen through the windows or even the windshield of your vehicle. Rely on closed and concealed containers – such as the center console or glove compartment – for storing sensitive items that may raise questions.
Reach Out to an Experienced Clemson Defense Attorney Today
An experienced criminal defense attorney in Clemson, South Carolina has the knowledge and expertise needed to identify whether the probable cause requirement was met in your case. He or she would also be capable of examining the other actions taken during the arrest, detention, and/or search process to protect your constitutional rights.
In some cases, your case may be dismissed or evidence may be rendered inadmissible if police did not have probable cause. Contact Boatwright Legal today to schedule a free consultation.