Why Probable Cause Matters in Your New Jersey Criminal Case
If you are facing criminal charges in New Jersey, there are some key legal principles that may significantly influence the outcome of your case, one of which is probable cause. “Probable cause” is a legal term that is often used in the context of search and seizure laws in New Jersey. Generally, police must have probable cause to initiate actions against you that would otherwise violate your constitutional rights—which means that it is essential to know and understand what the term means to protect your rights. At our criminal defense law firm, our experienced criminal defense lawyers aggressively challenge probable cause for unlawful searches that result in criminal charges against our clients. In this article, we explain the concept of probable cause and why it matters if you have been charged with drugs, weapons, or another crime after a search in New Jersey. For a free consultation about your case, contact our office at 609-832-3202 or contact us online today.
Burlington County NJ Criminal Defense Lawyer Explains Probable Cause
The definition of probable cause is much more fluid than you might think. The law has attempted to keep the term flexible so that it can apply to a variety of situations. Nonetheless, it is still meant to be practical and based in common sense so the average person can understand when an officer may have probable cause.
Essentially, the term means that an officer has reason to believe that you are doing something illegal. The reason that they may think that criminal activity is taking or has taken place will vary, but once there is probable cause, an officer would be able to conduct a search or detain you. If the officer did not truly think you had committed a crime or that the search would result in evidence of a crime, they cannot lawfully conduct a search of your person or property.
If the police do not have probable cause to take action, any evidence that they obtain because of that action can be disregarded or thrown out at trial. That means that it cannot be used against you in a criminal proceeding.
Examples of Probable Cause in New Jersey Criminal Cases
Perhaps the best way to explain probable cause is to set out a typical example. Imagine a pull-over situation from the perspective of a police officer. The officer has a speed gun set up and clocks you driving 57 miles per hour in a 45-mile zone. Because he knows you were speeding, he has probable cause to pull you over. Then, when he comes over to speak to you about the incident, he smells marijuana in the vehicle. The smell alone constitutes probable cause to search your car to look for illegal substances. Had the officer stopped you and searched your vehicle without knowledge of your speeding or the marijuana smell, he would not have probable cause, and the marijuana he found would not be admissible evidence at trial.
Keep in mind that your consent often “trumps” probable cause. That is, if you consent to a search, the police do not have to have probable cause for the search. Your consent makes probable cause virtually irrelevant.
Generally speaking, the police cannot stop you or detain you unless they have reason to do so. They cannot stop your vehicle unless they think you have violated a law. Some exceptions apply to this general rule, especially with regard to police doing investigations, including sobriety checkpoints. If police follow procedure for setting up a DWI checkpoint under New Jersey law, you can legally be charged with DWI at a sobriety checkpoint and probable cause for a motor vehicle stop is unnecessary.
Mount Holly NJ Probable Cause Criminal Defense Attorney
Whether an officer has probable cause is an extremely important part of criminal law and procedure. If police could simply act without probable cause, then there would be very little to protect your constitutional rights to privacy and to be secure in your person and property. If you have been arrested for a crime, it is imperative to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer examining your case to see if police lacked probable cause. The attorneys at our firm have been defending clients facing criminal charges in Burlington County, Gloucester County, Camden County, and throughout Southern New Jersey for years and we know how to find constitutional violations that pave the way for a dismissal. Contact us at 609-832-3202 anytime for a free case evaluation from a knowledgeable attorney.
If you are facing criminal charges in New Jersey, there are some key legal principles that may significantly influence the outcome of your case, one of which is probable cause. “Probable cause” is a legal term that is often used in the context of search and seizure laws in New […]
"William handled a matter for me and exceeded my expectations. He was excellent in
all areas of the law and achieved an outstanding result. Best of all,he demonstrates honesty and integrity. I
would highly recommend William and already have."
"I was so scared and nervous about my legal situation but Mr. Fay did an outstanding
job with my case!!! I was so relieved with the outcome and he worked so hard for me! He was so calm and
understanding and I’m so grateful for him. Thank you so very much for helping me! I am so grateful
"All Charges Dropped & Expunged"
"William defended me in my marijuana + paraphernalia case, he had all charges
dropped and expunged! Despite the fact I was long past conditional discharges/probation, etc. He has a sharp wit
and a bright future ahead of him as an attorney. Thanks again Will!"
"Mr. Fay is a fantastic lawyer. He helped me during a very stressful time in my
life. He was knowledgeable about my case and what my options were. He answered all my questions and was very
reassuring. He was there waiting for me at the entrance on my court date and made me feel at ease. He worked
with the prosecutor to reduce my charges. I got the best outcome I could have hoped for. I highly recommend Mr.
Fay if you need a lawyer."
"I was arrested and summoned to court for possession of marijuana, even though I
didn't have any on me. It was my first time getting in trouble and I was terrified and nervous. Mr. Fay came
into court prepared and was extremely assuring. He made it very clear that he was going to fight for my case
until the very end. He was extremely knowledgable about my case and the ways to resolve it. I would recommend
Mr. Fay to anyone who has gotten into trouble."
"Excellent lawyer. Highly recommended."
"Mr. Fay is extremely caring and knowledgeable. He took the time to explain the
entire process in a very clear manner and was a tremendous help during a stressful time. He was always available
to take a phone call and really showed that he cared about me and my case. I highly recommend Mr. Fay as an
"Great lawyer. Created a best possible outcome for my case."
"Amazing job, explains very clearly"
"He did a fantastic job on my case, making my penalty much less than I thought it
could possibly be. He clearly understands what he is doing and can explain everything in a way that anyone can
understand. Any questions I had were answered very clearly and he listened to all small details of my case."
The intention to distribute or transport illegal drugs (controlled dangerous substances) on a grand scale, either nationwide or internationally, is drug trafficking. While possessing certain drugs in New Jersey is unlawful, possessing large quantities of illicit drugs may be evidence of an intent to sell illegal drugs. In other words, […]
You might mistake car burglary for a different crime, like theft. Burglary is a term most associated with house invasions but breaking into a car or a house is no different in the eyes of the law. The penalties are equally severe under New Jersey statute 2C:18-2. You could face […]
Deep Dive into Field Sobriety Tests for DWI in New Jersey What are Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST)? Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST) are standardized tests law enforcement uses on the roads and other public places to test drivers for impaired driving due to alcohol or drugs. When are SFST’s […]
If you or someone you love has been charged with a criminal or DUI offense in New Jersey, finding the
answers you need to make informed decisions is critical. Complete our contact form to request your free
consultation or contact 609-832-3202
We are available 24/7 Nights and Weekends to Provide Free Consultations | Hablamos Español