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Probable Cause & Reasonable Suspicion in Traffic Stops- Criminal Attorney Explains | Jabar Post Indonesia
– Hey, guys, this is Adam Feldman with The Feldman Law Firm. What I want to talk to you about today, we’re getting a lot of questions about the difference really between reasonable suspicion and probable cause as it relates to the criminal world, more specifically traffic stops, but it does bleed into different aspects. So, I wanna kind of cover this in the best ways so that anybody else who’s not a lawyer can understand it. And the problem is that the difference between the two is actually, it’s a very, very thin line. There’s not that much of a difference between the two when considering what’s what. The way it really breaks down is reasonable suspicion is the lowest level of a legal standard where police can really do anything. And the idea is that it’s associated with a stop and frisk. So, reasonable suspicion is nothing more than an articulable suspicion, so it’s not a hunch. When you think of a hunch, you’re just saying, mmm, that guy looks like he might be up to no good. That doesn’t count for reasonable suspicion, it’s just that little step more. So, I mean, the cops will incorporate a whole lot of information that most of the time, really, is bogus, but for example, you’re in a quote unquote “high crime neighborhood”, which to most of us means nothing, that could be my neighborhood that has since then been branded by some police officer as high crime, and therefore, they now have that reasonable suspicion to do what? To stop you, they can stop you and say, “Hey, man, what’s going on, what’s happening here?” Now, at this level of reasonable suspicion, that’s really what allows the officer to start saying, you know, I wanna frisk you, I want to check you for drugs, something to that effect. So, it incorporates the totality of the circumstances, it’s based off of an idea but something that this police officer has to be able to articulate. High crime neighborhood, the individual potential suspect is looking suspicious, sweating a lot when you’re in the middle of the winter, you know, just because the police came up, eyes darting back and forth. These are things, I mean, I haven’t described anything that’s criminal, but this is all reasonable suspicion that the police officer can articulate when it comes down to stopping you. And when that stop takes place, they then have the ability to arguably frisk you, check for drugs, check for firearms, what have you. But the biggest question here for anybody who is subject to a reasonable suspicion, frisk, or stop, or anything like that is am I being detained. That should always be the first question because just because a police officer interacts with you, just because a police officer comes to you and says, “Hey man, what’s going on?” Or “Hey, can I check you for drugs,” or “Hey, do you have a gun on you?” These are simply questions. Police can go around the neighborhood asking people questions. It doesn’t mean that you have to comply. So, with reasonable suspicion, this gives them that next step to actually detaining. So, it’s very important for anybody who’s interacting with police to very politely, and very calmly, ask, “Hey, am I being detained?” If they don’t answer the question, you are not being detained and you can walk away. If they tell you that you are being detained, well, the best advice is to comply. Because if they are detaining you, and then you start running away, giving reason for chase, you’re really only going to compound the circumstances and probably put yourself in more trouble. So, reasonable suspicion is articulable facts that allow this officer to really just stop you, quote unquote “detain you”, ask you some questions, frisk you even, check for drugs, weapons, or any criminal contraband. After, and this is really important, reasonable suspicion alone, you cannot arrest somebody. That’s probably the biggest distinction between where we’re going next which is now probable cause. So, reasonable suspicion, you can walk up to somebody, frisk, ask questions, but you cannot arrest on reasonable suspicion alone. Then we move to probable cause. Now, this is where things can start getting a little hairy for the suspect because at the time of probable cause, now we’re really invoking the fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
The Feldman Law Firm, PLLC
1 E Washington St, #2240
Phoenix, AZ, 85004
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