- These are the facts and circumstances that would leave a police officer to believe that a crime has been committed or will be committed.
- Police establish probable cause by: flight, furtive gestures, hiding, the destruction of evidence, and evasive answers.
- The police CANNOT search a person unless they have established a warrant to be able to do so.
The 4th Amendment
- The 4th Amendment protects people from searches and seizures that are unreasonable.
- Searches and seizures require warrants that are based on probable cause.
- The specific aspects of a person's appearance that make the police officers conclude that a person should be stopped.
- For example, if the police get a call about a person who had just committed a robbery and the police officer get a description of a man in his mid 30's wearing blue jeans and a red sweatshirt who walks with a slight limp as the suspect, and a few minutes later they see a person that matches the entire description, they are allowed to make the choice of stopping this person based on reasonable suspicion.
Burden of Proof
- When the prosecutor shows proof that they know the defendant has or has not committed a crime.
- This can involve the use of witnesses, an autopsy report, DNA or forensic evidence present at the scene of the crime.
- As long as all of the given evidence is valid and the witnesses give valid reports, the prosecutor, judge and jury can convict the defendant.
- There must be BEYOND a reasonable doubt to be sure that a person has committed a crime.
- This also affects the actions of the police. When the police arrest someone, they need to have evidence before they can convict the suspect of a crime. This involves looking for evidence, questioning witnesses or neighbors around them for clues.
- Failure to meet the burden of proof will result in the defendant being presumed innocent in a court of law since there is no evidence for sure that the person committed a crime.