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What is probable cause when it comes to searches?

Police searches often play a fairly major role in drug cases. Police have many different requirements placed on them when it comes to property searches. One term that individuals may hear thrown around quite a bit when it comes to these requirements is probable cause.

Generally speaking, probable cause is a requirement regarding the level of information authorities need to take a certain action. In relation to searches, probable cause exists if it is shown that, given the information and facts authorities have, a reasonable person would have cause to believe that a given property contains evidence related to a crime or had a crime occur at it.

There are several different probable cause requirements in the realm of police searches. One of the primary ones is that probable cause is required for a search warrant to be issued. This requirement derives from the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment.

Warrants are required for many different types of police searches. Generally, when police wish to obtain a warrant to search a given property, they will present, to a judge, an affidavit making their case as to why probable cause is present in relation to the property. A judge will then review the matter and determine if probable cause exists, and thus if a warrant will be issued.

Thus, whether probable cause was sufficiently shown during the warrant-obtaining process can be a very significant issue in drug crime cases in which a police search occurred. Investigating this issue is among the things drug crime defense attorneys can do for those who find themselves facing drug charges following a police search.

Source: FindLaw, "Probable Cause," Accessed July 31, 2014

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