Probable Cause

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Last updated: June 14, 2019

November 10, 2010 Criminal Procedures Mid- Term Probable cause does not rise to the level of proof beyond a reasonable doubt but must be beyond a mere hunch or guess. The legal standard to a probable cause arrest is when an officer finds evidence during a valid stop and frisk search that confirms the reasonable suspicion of an officer that a crime has been or is being committed and would lead to the arrest of and offender. There are a variety of sources to establish probable cause and they are personally observed facts by an officer, information received from an informant.When information supplied by informant the courts and police need to know what facts was observed by them and why should their information be reliable. In some cases stale probable cause take place this is when the original grounds of supporting probable cause for arrest could be disproved by subsequent investigation and new evidence arrives that may lead to the arrest of a different person, also if the crime may have been resolved. There is a statue of limitation for arrest, once probable cause is established in any arrest. Once the limitation expires that means the probable cause on longer exists, and the person cannot be rearrested.

Basically an arrest is not legitimized without the proper facts and evidence better know as probable cause. Grand Jury Indictment is when an individual is charged with a crime voted on by a grand jury. Unless a defendant waives the Fifth Amendment right to a grand jury indictment, in a federal prosecution the prosecutor must initiate a serious criminal case through a grand jury indictment.

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Federal grand juries consist of between sixteen and twenty-three grand jurors with a foreperson appointed by the court to overseeing the grand jury.For an indictment at least twelve grand jurors must vote to indict, or not indictment can be issued. A federal prosecutor presents witnesses in front of the grand jury and asks questions of the witnesses. The grand jurors are allowed to ask questions to the witness. The grand jurors may consider illegally seized evidence. During the proceeding no defense attorney can be present, even if the potential defendant has been called as a grand jury witness. If and offense charged is punishable either by death or by imprisonment for longer than a year it requires a prosecutor to procure an indictment.

A federal jury indictment or information must be plain and tightly written statement of the operative facts that the government thinks constitute the crime and must be signed by a prosecutor in the United States attorney’s office. However, the Fifth Amendment requirement of a grand jury indictment does not apply to the individual states of the United States; states are free to use their version of a grand jury system or to initiate criminal prosecutions with information. Case in Chief is when evidence is presented in a trial by the prosecution and defense.The government’s case begins when the prosecutor calls the first witness to give testimony. They can only ask the witness direct questions and not leading questions. The evidence is directed toward meeting the burden of proof, which is proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which includes oral testimony, evidence by witness, and a view of the crime scene.

The prosecutions usually present most of their evidence from their witnesses that are referred to as lay witnesses. They have firsthand information about what happened.Usually police officers are known as the lay witness but may on occasion testify as expert witnesses where their education and experience qualify them with specialized knowledge that the average person does not possess. The defense case in chief must mount a defense that either demolishes the prosecutor’s case or, at a bare minimum, creates reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury. A defendant has no burden of proofs in any criminal case and can still prevail without introducing any evidence with the exception of affirmative defenses. Based on the Fifth Amendment the defendant may choose not to testify to avoid self- incrimination.

The defense counsel also calls defense witnesses for direct examination. Defense testimony may also include expert witnesses who have special training and qualifications and are permitted to offer opinions. The prosecution is permitted to cross-examine each defense witness. Reasonable Suspicion is a crime has or about to occur.

If an officer has some suspicion of criminality of a person they are allowed to do a limited stop and frisk of the individual just for the safety of the officer. The Terry, courts have adapted the stop and frisk rationale to situations involving automobiles and airport detentions.A reasonable level of force may be used to effectuate the stop if the individual proves resistance. The subject may be briefly questioned about the unusual conduct; if the explanation proves unreasonable, and the officer reasonably believes the person is armed and dangerous, he or she may conduct a limited search of the outer clothing. The facts that generate an officer’s reasonable basis to suspect criminal activity may be derived from the officer’s personal observation, from informant information, from a dispatcher message, or from a combination of two or more sources.

The fourth Amendment permits seizures of persons on less than probable cause for the purpose of briefly investigating human behavior that might be criminal. When the standard has been met the police officer has the legal authority to detain a person and briefly ask reasonable questions. If the answers would satisfy the reasonable officer, the forced encounter ends, and the individual becomes free to leave without being a subject to a pat- down.


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