Thursday, March 20, 2008

Probable Cause Explained

If you ever wanted to know the definition of probable cause, please read this true story . . . then do the exact opposite.

Let's say (hypothetically, of course) that two police officers are on routine patrol in, oh, let's (hypothetically) say Philadelphia. The two officers arrest a citizen for possession of alleged narcotics. They bring in their paperwork to an unnamed detective division, and give the assigned detective an arrest memo.

The memo (hypothetically) reads like this:

While on routine patrol, we noticed the defendant standing outside the listed location looking upward with a closed fist. The defendant was stopped for investigation, and ordered to open his hand. When the defendant did so, alleged cocaine fell to the ground. The defendant was arrested and transported to the detective division.

So, apparently, if you are looking up at the sky while holding an unknown object in your hand, certain big city police officers will stop and frisk you. Again, hypothetically.

For the record, this defendant's rights were violated ten ways from Sunday here.

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