I might be guilty of binge watching TV crime shows. A reoccurring theme on shows like Law & Order and Blue Bloods is probable cause. Have you ever wondered what probable cause really means? Let's have a little overview so you can keep up the next time you see District Attorney Barba tell Detective Benson she doesn't have probable cause for a warrant on Law & Order Special Victims Unit.
The Fourth Amendment protects the people from unreasonable searches and seizures. It also states that no warrants [for arrest] shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. The Legal Information Institute from Cornell defines probable cause as a requirement before police make an arrest, conduct a search, or receive a warrant.
What does that mean for you? Police officers can make arrests if: 1) the crime is committed in police presence, or 2) there is probable cause for the police to believe the crime was committed and that the alleged perpetrator is the person that committed the crime. The questions of whether an officer had a reasonable articulable suspicion that a crime was committed and whether the person arrested committed the crime will determine probable cause. If those questions can't be answered definitively, then probable cause is probably missing.
Once arrested, Minn. Rules of Criminal Procedure 4.03 subd. 1. states that a person must be brought before a judge within 48 hrs. There are a few exceptions whereby the 48 hour time limit can be extended up to 72 hrs. when holidays or weekends are involved. Arrested persons have the right to appear before a judge within 48 hrs., so a judge can determine whether the officer had probable cause to make the arrest. If no probable cause is found, the person must be released.
If anyone you know is ever arrested, make sure to tell them to contact an attorney as soon as possible to go over their rights with them. As always, if you're in a jam, call Sam.