What constitutes probable cause in a criminal defense case in South Carolina?
Black’s Law Dictionary defines probable cause as a reasonable ground to suspect that a person has committed or is committing a crime or that a place contains specific items connected with a crime. In other words, an officer needs to show that it is more likely than not that the person being arrested violated the law for which they are being arrested for.
An officer needs probable cause to make an arrest. An officer can acquire probable cause in a couple of different ways. The officer can go before a detached magistrate and request a search warrant or arrest warrant or the officer can make a warrantless search of arrest if he has probable cause.
If an officer acquires evidence by breaking the law himself (i.e. In this case, violating a person’s 4th amendment rights) the evidence that has been acquired may be suppressed.
Vehicle Stop: If probable cause exists to stop a vehicle an officer may order the driver to get out of the vehicle and request a driver’s license, vehicle registration, run a computer check and issue a citation without violating a driver’s rights. If the cop detains the driver and questions the driver about facts that are irrelevant to the stop it will most likely be deemed a violation of the driver’s constitutional rights UNLESS the cop has reasonable suspicion of a serious crime. State v. Rivera, 682 S.E.2d 307, 384 S.C. 356 (S.C. App. 2009)
Sources: US Constitution 4th amendment, SC Constitution Art. 1, § 10.; State v. Dunbar, 603 S.E. 2d 615, 361 S.C. 240 (S.C. App. 2004), State v. Rivera, 682 S.E.2d 307, 384 S.C. 356 (S.C. App. 2009); Black’s Law Dictionary
Alex Kornfeld is a criminal defense lawyer in Greenville, South Carolina. If you have been charged with, or are under suspicion of a crime, you may contact the office at 864-335-9990.