In criminal investigations, law enforcement must act based on the evidence they have at their disposal – and their actions are limited accordingly. An officer cannot, for example, stop a car without some reasonable suspicion that the driver is impaired or otherwise doing something illegal.
Similarly, the police need probable cause – which is a much higher standard of proof than reasonable suspicion – to make an arrest. Outlined below are a few examples of evidence that could amount to probable cause.
Items found during a search
If police officers turn up at your door, then the only way that they can legally enter is with your consent, a valid search warrant or probable cause. If you do let them in, then it’s likely that anything they discover could be used against you. For instance, if there are traces of white powder on the coffee table, this could provide the probable cause required to make an arrest for drug offenses.
In some cases, particularly those that involve organized crime, law enforcement may enlist members of the group enterprise as witnesses. If they have provided sworn testimony that criminal activity is occurring on your property, this could amount to the probable cause required to carry out searches and make arrests.
The right to privacy is taken very seriously in the US, and it is protected by the Fourth Amendment of the constitution. You should not be subjected to unlawful searches and seizures or face charges that are not based on probable cause. If you feel that these rights have been violated, seeking some legal guidance will help you to fight the charges.