Criminal Procedure-Probable Cause
Probable cause is the standards and authority by a police officer to conduct a property or personal search, make an arrest or to obtain a warrant for arrest. The standard is also used by the grand jury in the believe that crime has been committed. The term was instituted by the fourth amendment of the United States constitution. A search warrant is an order signed by the Judge which authorizes police officers to search and find specific material and objects of a suspect at specific time in a certain location. Police officers obtain warrant by convincing a magistrate or a judge that they have evidence of a probable cause which is a criminal activity.
The criminal activity should be stated with the exact location or place where they found the evidence. This persuasion is usually in the form of a written statement known as the affidavit. The report states the police officers; own observation concerning an issues. If the statement is convincing enough to the magistrate, that it provides probable cause that calls for a search, the officer is issued with a warrant.The suspect in connection with the crime is usually not present when the warrant is given and he can not consent on the issue of probable cause. He has the right to contest against the warrant in challenge of it before trial.
The police officers are only allowed to search places described by the warrant at that specific time and the specific property indicated in the warrant. The specific details; in the warrant are only searched; if it means the backyard, then the house should not be searched. But if they come across the evidence of probable cause issue they have the right to conduct further investigations. The name of the person to be searched is included in the warrant which means no any other person should be searched apart from the specified person. But if other suspected persons are found, and then they are subject to the warrant search. Sometimes as search warranty is not required before conducting every search. Searching of issues of probable cause has mostly happened without search warrants. This is because of lack of a reasonable expectation of privacy or the search is reasonable under that specific circumstance.
In these instances the fourth amendment does not apply.A case which does not require a warrantee search is when a person has agreed to be searched. The police officers also have the right to refuse the consent at their own will. Any evidence found through consent search is valid. The plain view doctrine deals with when police officers have the right to be in place where evidence or contraband is spotted. This can be in the backyard of house where marijuana is grown or contraband activities during his patrol duty. He has the right to conduct a search without any warrant.When arresting, the police officer has the right to conduct a search either for harmful weapons like knives, swords or pistol so as to protect themselves. In this case no warrant is required.
The same case is applied during emergencies such as violence, accidents or when chasing a criminal who hides in a nearby house. This is because during emergencies the police officer has the duty of protecting the public and preserves evidence found in the soonest time possible. Such an activity outweighs the requirements of a warrant.A person can report actions of a police officer who enters his/ her house with out his consent and without a warrant to show his actions. Therefore if an officer demands to search, it is advisable to stand aside and let the police officer conduct the search then later report the matter to the authorities. For the case of cars and vehicles suspect to be carrying illegal goods such as prohibited drugs, the police officers have the right to conduct a search without any warrant (Nolo, 2010)
Nolo (2010) Search warrants: what they are and when they are necessary. Retrieved
On May 13, 2010