What Is Probable Cause in an Oklahoma Criminal Case?
Before Oklahoma law enforcement agents may arrest a person on suspicion of a crime, they must have sufficient grounds to believe that he or she did, in fact, commit the crime. The legal standard by which officers must justify an arrest is called probable cause.
Probable Cause and the Constitution
The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution establishes the people’s right to be free from detainment or arrest without probable cause. The Fourth Amendment states “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause . . “ This is the same amendment that provides protection from unreasonable searches and seizures.
What Counts as Probable Cause?
There is no hard and fast definition of probable cause—it must be determined on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the specific circumstances and details surrounding the case.
Probable cause requires more than just a hunch. Officers must be able to state the objective facts that led them to suspect and arrest a person. Probable cause must exist before the arrest and cannot be developed afterwards to justify an otherwise illegal arrest or search.
Who Determines Probable Cause?
Police officers must establish probable cause before they may lawfully arrest someone; however, it is up to the judge in your case to determine whether the reasons stated by the officer actually constitute probable cause.
The standard the Court will look at is whether there was sufficient reason based upon known facts to believe that a crime had been committed.
Challenging Probable Cause
One of the benefits of hiring an experienced defense attorney is the opportunity to examine and test the state’s evidence against you and challenge the probable cause cited by the arresting officer.
If your attorney can demonstrate that probable cause did not exist or was not sufficient to warrant your arrest, then the entire case may be dismissed.