There are several legal terms that people often use interchangeably when, in fact, they have separate meanings. For instance, reasonable suspicion and probable cause are terms that may both apply to a situation where a police officer thinks a crime has been committed. However, the two terms are slightly different in meaning.
Understanding legal terminology helps a person know what to expect, especially if pulled over in a traffic stop or a police officer wants to search an individual’s vehicle, person or home. Knowing the difference between reasonable suspicion and probable cause can also help build a criminal defense if an individual winds up facing charges for DUI or another crime. An accused individual has every right to challenge evidence or request a dismissal when it appears that his or her legal rights have been violated.
A temporary detention often precedes an arrest
If police execute a search warrant inside a building and inform everyone who happens to be present at the time that they cannot leave, these individuals have been temporarily detained. A traffic stop is another example of a temporary detention. A police officer must have reasonable suspicion to temporarily detain someone, meaning that a reasonable person would suspect that a crime may have been committed in similar circumstances.
Probable cause is necessary for arrests and search warrants
To make an arrest, a Minnesota police officer must establish probable cause, which is more than a reasonable suspicion. Probable cause is established when the facts of a particular set of circumstances would lead a person of sound of mind to believe that a crime has been committed or is being committed – that is, it’s more than a suspicion. One example of how reasonable suspicion and probable cause might both apply to a singule incident is a police officer making a traffic stop after witnessing a vehicle veer over the yellow line, then arresting the driver after he or she fails a field sobriety test. If a defendant believes an unlawful search, seizure or arrest took place, he or she may request a meeting with a criminal defense attorney to discuss available options to resolve the issue.