On Probable Cause


What you need to know about probable cause


Remember that when an officer approaches you, they have no right to detain you unless there is in existence a reasonable suspicion that you’ve committed a crime or traffic violation. That’s called probable cause.

Please know that an officer may try to engage in (and has a right in) asking whether you’d like to engage in a conversation with them. But this is a request. You have the right to decline the officer.

Remember to always tell the officer that you’d like to remain silent, or that you do not wish to speak to them.

But police do have rights you should know about under the Fourth Amendment. Police are able to engage in “reasonable” searches and seizures — a vague term for sure. This means the officer is tasked with proving the search is reasonable, which means that they have reasonable suspicion that you’ve a.) committed a crime, and b.) have evidence on your that suggests you’ve committed said crime. That’s called probable cause.

Police may also suggest that they have first hand information or tips from an informant that you’ve committed a crime. You should know that police officers are tasked with proving that the information said informant has given is reliable under the given circumstances of your situation to a judge. Always ask the officer, “Am I free to go?”

Informants are hardly reliable in these situations, because many of these informants turn out to be criminals and use whatever they can as leverage to not get arrested. It’s fairly common practice for corrupt cops to entrap criminals and coax them into giving information that will help them make big arrests. The problem is, many informants give bogus information.

Now that you know about probable cause, you’ll be able to more clearly and effectively execute your rights as an American citizen. Visit the Eric Wetlaufer site as often as you can to learn more about your rights.


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