Probable cause article

Probable cause refers to the standards police officers should apply in order to make an arrest, carryout a property or personal search or obtain an arrest warrant. Probable cause is thus applied as the standard against which the grand jury is convinced that a certain offense has been committed by an individual. The main function of probable cause is ensuring that the peoples rights of being secure and securing their papers, personal effects and houses, against any unreasonable seizures and searches is not violated by the law enforcers. It also ensures that no warrants can be issued without probable cause, which should be supported by an affirmation or oath and which must described the exact place to be searched as well as the things or persons to be seized (Shestokas, 2009).

Probable cause
The article by Shestokas titled Probable Cause for Police to Make an Arrest was chosen for this essay since it deeply explores all aspects involved in probable cause. It stipulates the requirements needed for an arrest to be made by a police officer and also the search and seizure requirements. Shestokas has borrowed substantially issues relating to probable cause from the 4th amendment.
According to the article a warrant is one of the requirements for a seizure, search or arrest based on probable cause. It is a paper document which clearly shows that the approval by the judicial for either a search or an arrest. Therefore, no seizure search or arrest can be made without a warrant. However, Supreme Court has already established that the 4th amendment which stipulates the procedures of probable cause does not need a warrant to enable the law enforcers carryout searches. Instead, it prohibits any searches, seizures and arrests that are unreasonable and which violates the right of people. Indeed, all the searches that are not supported by a warrant are considered to be unreasonable if not executed under one or several exceptions determined by the court (Shestokas, 2009).

The article also suggests that officially, criminal prosecutions start with the arrest of the defendant. However, the defendant is protected under the law from unconstitutional tactics likely to be carried against them by police officers. When a search, seizure or arrest warrant is sought by an officer, he or she has to present adequate evidence before the court via a magistrate or court. Shestokas recognizes that such evidence must be enough for probable cause to be established and the officer must prove to the court that crime evidence is likely and will actually be found in the place intended to be searched. In this case, probable cause effectively means that the level of belief that a certain crime was committed is high and that it is not based on simple suspicion although its absolute certainty cannot be achieved concerning the crime and the suspects (Shestokas, 2009).

Olivers article named Portland, Prohibition and Probable Cause Maines Role in Shaping Modern Criminal Procedure has also been used in this essay. It is a good complement to Shestokas article. According to Oliver, the officers who are seeking a warrant of search have to state under oath all the facts that are in support of the probable cause. If it is later found that the search warrant was short of probable cause, or significant crucial statements that were made by the officer in order to obtain the warrant were misleading, evidence obtained from such searches is not considered in the trial. He further discusses that if the search is conducted beyond the scope that was granted by the warrant, all the evidence seized under such searches is also not used by the court during the proceedings.

Probable cause as stipulated in the 4th amendment is very important as it protects the rights of people. It ensures that no unreasonable searches are carried out by the officers and if the officers apply unconstitutional tactics to obtain evidence, the court has the right to reject such evidence. However, there are instances under which an officer can carryout a search without a warrant. In such a case, the officer has first to prove before the court that it was not possible for him to obtain a warrant within reasonable time and that he conducted the search in the best interest of law.


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