Even if suspected of a crime, you have certain rights. Kentucky police cannot stop and question you without a valid reason, known as probable cause. Probable cause is when law enforcement has a valid reason to suspect that a crime is taking place. While it does not require the same evidence used to prove facts in court, it does mean that police must have more than a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.
If you believe there was a lack of probable cause before your arrest, you could have grounds to fight the entire case against you. One of the most important steps in developing an effective defense strategy is to carefully examine the actions of law enforcement in order to determine if there was a violation of your rights. You have the right to due process, as well as protection against detention by police without cause.
Probable cause to search or make an arrest
There are limits to when police can conduct a search of a privately owned property or place of business. In most cases, law enforcement must have a search warrant to enter private property to search for evidence of a crime. Circumstances in which a search warrant may not be necessary include:
- When conducting a search connected to a lawful arrest
- When the person who controls or owns the property permits the search
- When someone searched a car after law enforcement lawfully impounded it
- When there is an emergency situation that threatens the safety of the public
- When there is contraband or something illegal in plain sight
If police have a search warrant, they may only search what the warrant has outlined. For example, the warrant may limit the search to a specific area of privately owned property. If the search was illegal, however, any evidence collected during the search may not be eligible for use by the prosecution.
The right approach for your defense strategy
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to building a defense strategy. If you are facing criminal charges of any kind, you would be wise to take immediate action to learn about your options and pursue a beneficial outcome to your case. An assessment of your situation can help identify potential problems with the prosecution’s case against you, such as lack of probable cause for a search or arrest.