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Probable Cause Arrest/ Warrants

Probable Cause for Arrest and Warrants

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In criminal law, probable cause is defined as the standards, according to which the persons acting under law enforcement have the grounds, authority or power to obtain a warrant for making an arrest or conducting a property or personal search regarding an individual assumed to be guilty of criminal charges. In turn, a warrant refers to a written order authorizing a law enforcement officer to perform a specified action in the administration of justice. A warrant can be issued by a court or any other authority with the power to do so. Warrants can come with a variety of functions: some are used by police as a basis to arrest a suspect, while others allow to search property or a person when investigating a crime, and some are used to bring the accused persons to the court in case they have ignored the call to appear there (Bloom, 2003). This paper analyzes the legal probable causes for arrests and warrants. The selected cases address the situations where these causes can be applied in the administration of justice. The legal principles of warrant approval will be used to analyze these cases and finally propose the best solution for each circumstance.

Warrants Needed to Enter Third Party’s House

In case when there is a probable cause to arrest a defendant for armed assault and the law enforcement policeman has reasons to believe that the suspect is hiding in a third party’s garage attached to the house, some legal issues are involved. The first issue is whether the defendant lives with the third party. If it is so, an arrest warrant is sufficient to allow the officer enter the third party’s house. In such a case, a search warrant is not necessary, as an arrest serves as a reason for legal search of the defendants property. However, if there is no proof that the defendant lives in the third party’s house, the law enforcement officer must apply for a search warrant to access the house (Bloom, 2003). An arrest warrant is insufficient in this scenario, as the search of the third partys property is basically an intrusion to their private life and territory, which is illegal regarding the innocent citizens.

Officer in Hot Pursuit of Defendant

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According to the Fourth Amendment, in a situation of hot pursuit, a law enforcement officer has the authority to enter premises without a warrant, especially taking into consideration the fact that the defendant is being pursued for armed assault (Poulantzas, 2002). This mainly refers to the circumstances where delay will endanger the life of the law enforcement officer or other people’s lives and ultimately lead to the defendant’s escape. In this case, there is a probable cause upon which the defendant for armed assault can be arrested.

Defendant is Injured and Unarmed

In a situation where a defendant is injured and unarmed, the law prohibits the law enforcement officer to use deadly force when arresting the suspect. This means that the arrest should be done rather peacefully if the suspect is cooperative and does not resist the arrest. In case if the defendant is critically injured, he or she should be taken to the hospital instantly. In such a situation, he or she has to be guarded by at least two police officers around the clock (Zalman, 2010). Even in situations where the guilt of the suspect seems obvious, their fundamental human rights should not be violated.

Probable Cause to Search but not to Arrest or Both

A probable cause to arrest usually occurs in a situation where the officer has a reason to believe that a crime has occurred and the party to be arrested is directly related to the crime. In contrast, a probable cause to search occurs when the officer can prove that a given crime could have taken place at a specific location and the evidence of the crime can be found there (Zalman, 2010).

In a situation where an individual is suspected to have illegal drugs because of the specific smell, the law enforcement officer has a probable cause to search the suspect, but not to arrest him/her. A probable cause to arrest occurs in case when, as a result of the suspects search, drugs have been found by the officer. In this kind of case, there exists a probable cause for both arrest and search.

Mr. A and Mr. B Scenario

In this scenario, Mr. A goes to a police station, claiming that Mr. B has robbed a local jewelry store two weeks ago. He drops three wristwatches on a table and refuses to say anything else concerning the matter, despite the police questioning him. Upon investigation, it occurs that the watches are among the items stolen from the jewelry store by the robbers. Following are the analyses of the probable causes to search or arrest both participants of the situation.

Probable Cause to Arrest Mr. A and Mr. B

Obviously, in the analyzed case there is a probable cause for the police to arrest Mr. A. This is because he has been found in possession of the stolen goods. Moreover, he is not responding to police questions, hence it can be seen that he is not cooperative. For this reason, he should be arrested so that he could give the necessary information regarding how he got the watches and how he came to learn that Mr. B was involved in the robbery at the jewelry store. In this case, an arrest warrant is not necessarily needed, since the suspect is within the police station and is not cooperating with the police (Zalman, 2010).

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However, there is no probable cause to arrest Mr. B. because there is no sufficient evidence to prove that he was involved in the robbery. Indeed, the wristwatches might have been stolen by Mr. A, who is not responding to the investigative questions and hence is probably concealing some information. For this reason, there is no just cause to arrest Mr. B unless Mr. A agrees to cooperate and answer the questions he is asked. Only in case evidence is garnered against Mr. B can an arrest warrant be issued (Zalman, 2010).

Probable Cause to Search Mr. A’s and Mr. B’s Houses

There is a probable cause to search Mr. A’s house. This is because he was found in possession of the watches stolen from the jewelry store. In this case, a search warrant is not necessary to facilitate the search, since it is complemented by Mr. As arrest. According to the law, a law enforcement officer does not need a search warrant to conduct “a search on the arrestee and the area within his immediate control” (http://www.americanbar.org/publications/state_local_law_news/2014-15/fall/speech). Thus, if the arrest is legal, as it is in case with Mr. A, a search warrant is not necessary.

On the other hand, there is a probable cause to search Mr. B’s house: a search is required to find out whether the allegations brought forward by Mr. A are true. In this case, a search warrant is not needed, as there is a justified assumption that the two parties could have been accomplices in the robbery.

In a nutshell, this paper shows the legal principles that are applicable to approving warrants to searches and arrests and the legal probable causes through the detailed analysis of the practical case scenarios. It is of every citizens interest to be conversant with these principles in a bid to protect their rights in such circumstances. Moreover, these principles guide the law enforcement officers, as they carry out their day to day duties in the administration of justice. All the peculiarities of the national law regulations regarding the matter should be taken into consideration in order to facilitate the fast and efficient work of police.

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