"The Fourth Amendment has two clauses.
The first states that people have a right to
be protected from unreasonable
searches and seizures, and the second
states that no warrant shall issue except
upon probable cause. The roots of the
second clause -- the probable cause
requirement -- lie in English and American
colonial history. Prior to the framing of
our Constitution by the founding fathers,
the government had virtually unlimited
power to believe, right or wrong, that any
illegal items they were looking for would
be found. In England, this all-purpose
power took the form of what were called
general warrants; in colonial America,
they were called writs of assistance. To
protect against the abuses inherent in
this kind of power, the Framers added a
probable cause requirement... "
More on probable cause from
"Probable Cause is one of the most debated
and misunderstood concepts in police work."
~ Barry M. Baker
Probable cause is really a very simple compilation of
facts, based on evidence, to indicate that a person
probably committed the crime or offense being
alleged. Since probable cause to make an arrest
requires a lower threshold of evidence than is
required to convict a person, many police officers
take the low road and choose brevity over detail in
their probable cause statements. You often hear
police officers whine about the criminal being
released before they're done with their paperwork.
Well, while that's an exaggeration, the rapid release
of those charged criminally is often...actually, very
often the result of the police officer's failure to
provide the reviewing court official all of the
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