Probable cause and drug charges

Every year, many people in Michigan are charged with drug crimes. Some people are stopped by law enforcement officers and searched without the officer having a warrant. Before stopping a person, an officer must have reasonable suspicion that the person may be committing a crime, warranting further investigation.

Probable cause, on the other hand, requires that the officer have good reason to believe a crime has been committed in order to search or seize property, arrest a person or to charge them with a crime. When an officer comes to a person's home and requests their permission to search the premises, if they are given consent, they may then conduct such a search without having to first seek a warrant, as there is a consent exception to the probable cause requirement.

Officers will commonly ask for permission to search cars and vehicles, and many people wrongly believe that they have to agree to such a warrantless search. Officers often ask for permission when they do not believe they have enough evidence necessary to convince a judge to grant a search warrant based on probable cause. Other times, an officer may search a person's home or car without consent or without a warrant. When they do something like this, an attorney will most likely file a constitutional motion requesting suppression of the evidence based on the warrantless search and seizure.

When people are charged with drug crimes, they may wish to consult with a criminal defense attorney about the particular facts and circumstances of their case. An attorney may be able to review the initial stop, search, seizure and arrest to determine whether or not a constitutional motion is in order. People have rights under the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable search and seizure, and the probable cause standard is in place to protect against such violations.

Source: Findlaw, " Probable Cause", December 02, 2014