What Is Reasonable Suspicion in an Oklahoma Criminal Case?

The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution establishes our right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. This means that law enforcement officers in Oklahoma must have sufficient grounds in order to investigate suspected crimes or arrest alleged criminal suspects.

The legal standard by which police officers must justify detaining and/or questioning a person is reasonable suspicion.

What Constitutes Reasonable Suspicion?

Unfortunately, reasonable suspicion is not easily defined, as it varies from case to case and is open to interpretation.

Essentially, reasonable suspicion is considered to be more than a hunch, but less than probable cause.

Reasonable Suspicion vs. Probable Cause

Reasonable suspicion and probable cause can be viewed as standards of proof on which police officers can base specific actions.

  • With reasonable suspicion, police may stop, detain, and/or question you; reasonable suspicion is also grounds to search for weapons if the officer believes you are armed
  • With probable cause, police may arrest you or obtain a search warrant from a judge

Reasonable Suspicion and Your Case

In many criminal cases, police officers begin an investigation on the basis of reasonable suspicion, which in turn leads to probable cause for an arrest and the filing of formal charges.

Think of it this way: the state’s case is like a house of cards, with the bottom card being the reasonable suspicion on which the entire case rests. If your defense attorney can show that the reasonable suspicion cited by the officer is not sufficient, then the entire case is compromised and should be dismissed by the judge.

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