Law enforcement officers who arrest someone without probable cause to do so have violated that person’s Fourth Amendment rights. If you have been arrested, proving that the officer did not have the requisite probable cause to arrest you is one way to have any charges against you dropped.
What is probable cause?
Generally, having a hunch or feeling that someone is involved in something unlawful is not enough for a police officer to get an arrest warrant or arrest them. The officer must have more than just reasonable suspicion. They must have probable cause, or a reasonable belief that the person they are arresting committed a crime or is in the process of committing a crime.
If an arrest warrant is granted, there is presumption that probable cause for the arrest exists. However, in most cases, officers are not able to get an arrest warrant before the arrest. Without an arrest warrant, probable cause must be established based on the facts and circumstances surrounding the arrest.
Determining probable cause
When it comes to Fourth Amendment violations, New York courts have a responsibility to ensure that the defendants rights were not violated during the arrest.
Probable cause should be based on facts, that the officer should be able to establish with eyewitness statements, victim statements, personal observations, and circumstantial evidence. Courts will consider this evidence, as well the history of the arresting officer, when determining whether he or she had probable cause to arrest the defendant.
Proving a lack of probable cause can be difficult, but it can be done with the assistance from an experienced criminal defense attorney.