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Scriven Law, P.A. Your Problem is Our Practice
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Probable Cause And Florida Criminal Cases


What all defendants have in common at the beginning of their criminal cases is that they may have committed a crime.  If it were obvious to everyone that you were innocent, and no one ever suspected you of anything, you would not be in criminal court.  After meeting with your lawyer, you might decide that the accusations against you are true and that the state handled the investigation and arrest correctly; in this case, your strategy is to seek a plea deal.  You might also decide that the accusations are only partially true, or that they only arose because the police or prosecutors violated your rights, such as by collecting evidence during an illegal search or pressuring you to confess without notifying you of your rights.  If the police had no business arresting or investigating you at all, then your lawyer may be able to help you get the court to dismiss your case, which means clearing you of the charges without even going to trial.  A Tampa criminal defense lawyer can help you if the police arrested you without probable cause.

What Constitutes Probable Cause?

The good news and the bad news is that there is room for disagreement about what counts as probable cause in criminal cases.  Police officers have probable cause to arrest you if they reasonably believe that, when they stopped you, you were actively committing a crime or had just finished committing a crime.  When police seek an arrest warrant, they must show enough evidence to persuade the court that there is reason to believe that you committed a crime.  When they seek a search warrant, they must show probable cause for believing that they will find evidence of a particular crime if they search your house.  By definition, probable cause does not mean that the officer is completely sure that you are guilty; at the arrest stage, there is always room for reasonable doubt.

What Happens If You Were Arrested Without Probable Cause?

If you believe that a police officer arrested you or obtained a search warrant without probable cause, you have the right to request a probable cause hearing.  At the hearing, your lawyer can present evidence to show that nothing about your actions immediately before the arrest would cause a reasonable person to believe that you were committing a crime.  For example, you can prove that there is no probable cause if the witness who originally accused you of the crime recants his or her testimony.  If police keep you detained after your arrest, the court must hold a probable cause hearing within 48 hours of the arrest.  At this hearing, your lawyer might be able to get your charges dismissed, meaning that your case will be over almost as quickly as it started.

Contact Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney Bryant Scriven

A criminal defense lawyer can help you prove that the police arrested you without probable cause.  Contact Scriven Law in Tampa, Florida to schedule a consultation.


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