What Constitutes Probable Cause for an Arrest in New Jersey?

Interacting with the police can be a frightening and stressful experience, and these situations can quickly escalate. As such, it’s vital to know your rights. Per the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Consitution, law enforcement officers must have probable cause to arrest someone, conduct a search, or seize property. Without it, law enforcement officers cannot make an arrest. If you’re facing criminal charges, it’s in your best interest to enlist the help of a skilled Bergen County Criminal Defense Attorney who can help protect your rights. Please continue reading to learn more about probable cause in New Jersey. 

What is probable cause in New Jersey?

Generally, an arrest can be made in the following situations:

  • When a law enforcement officer personally observes a person committing a crime.
  • When a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe a person has committed or is about to commit a crime.
  • When law enforcement officers obtain a valid arrest warrant.

As mentioned above, probable cause is required to make a valid arrest or get an arrest warrant from a judge. A law enforcement officer must have objective facts, not subjective beliefs. For instance, law enforcement officers cannot make an arrest just by stating that they have reasonable suspicion that the defendant committed a crime. They must be able to display events that caused them to believe that a suspect committed a crime. Ultimately, probable cause means that a reasonable person would believe that a crime was in the process of being executed, had been, or was going to be committed.

If an arrest were made without probable cause, any evidence resulting from the arrest would be suppressed, meaning the prosecution would not be able to use it to present it in court to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. It can be challenging to understand this legal standard for an arrest as it is an abstract concept with an elusive definition.

Should I hire an attorney?

If you’ve been arrested for an alleged crime, you must retain the legal services of an experienced attorney who can defend your rights and interests. An attorney will investigate the circumstances of the arrest, meaning they will determine whether they had probable cause to make the arrest. If it’s discovered the arresting officer did not have probable cause, your attorney can help you fight to get your charges reduced or dismissed. Unfortunately, miscarriages of justice slip through the cracks because criminal defendants do not understand their rights or obtain quality legal representation.

For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact a determined attorney from The Law Office of Carl Spector. Our legal team is prepared to help you protect your freedom.