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Is probable cause needed for an arrest?

On Behalf of | Oct 5, 2022 | Criminal Defense |

Getting arrested for a crime in New York can feel overwhelming. You may feel that the arrest was unjustified and that the police had no legitimate reason to arrest you. A criminal defense attorney can review the circumstances of your arrest and help determine whether your arrest was unlawful.

Probable cause is necessary for a lawful arrest

New York law enforcement officers are not allowed to arrest someone based on a feeling or hunch that the person did something wrong. Under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, an arrest is only legal (with or without a warrant) if the officer had probable cause to believe that the person being arrested committed a crime.

If an officer has a reasonable belief, based on the totality of the circumstances, that the suspect committed a crime, they have the probable cause they need to acquire an arrest warrant or to arrest the suspect without a warrant. However, even if an officer thinks they have probable cause, the judge will have the final say as to whether probable cause exists based on the information available at the time.

What happens if the officer did not have probable cause to arrest me?

A lack of probable cause can significantly change the course of the prosecutor’s case. Without probable cause, any evidence stemming from the arrest, including physical evidence and statements made by the suspect, will have to be suppressed.

Prosecutors may struggle to prove their case without this critical evidence and be forced to drop the case against the suspect altogether. If you have been arrested, your attorney can help establish that your arrest was unlawful due to a violation of your Constitutional rights and file a motion to suppress any evidence collected as a result of your unlawful arrest.

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