What is reasonable suspicion vs. probable cause?

On Behalf of | Jul 29, 2021 | Criminal Law |

When it comes to protecting your rights in a criminal case, there are some very important terms you should know, particularly if evidence has been seized in a potentially improper way. One such example is reasonable suspicion vs. probable cause and the different standards that each of these terms has. It is also worth noting that every state – including Texas – may have laws that rely on these terms in slightly different ways.

What are reasonable suspicion and probable cause?

Reasonable suspicion is when a police officer has what can be broadly accepted to be a “reasonable suspicion” that a crime is taking place; such as a witness pointing it out, or the officer noticing it themselves.  However, reasonable suspicion does not entitle an officer to conduct searches – just briefly detail. Probable cause means that someone has probable cause to believe that there has been a crime and is enough to obtain a warrant.

What is the difference between the two?

From a criminal defense perspective, there are important distinctions. Probably caused is used to obtain a warrant and make an arrest: Reasonable suspicion means that an officer can stop someone from doing something, but cannot make a more extensive search. Indeed, reasonable suspicion can best be categorized as the step before an officer has probable cause.

A legal professional could help make sure that your rights are protected and file any appropriate legal motion, as needed if evidence has been seized against you that violates either of these standards. If you have any questions about your rights, or questions about how evidence has been seized, you should immediately contact an attorney. They might help you determine if the case against you is just and what your best legal recourse may be.