Police officers have to uphold certain standards as they’re doing their job duties. They can’t just walk up to someone and arrest them without having a valid reason. In order to arrest someone, the officer has to have probable cause.
Arresting someone without probable cause isn’t ever allowed. Civil lawsuits can occur in situations where a person was falsely arrested. Because police officers are human and sometimes make honest mistakes, those civil lawsuits likely won’t succeed if there was a simple mistake made by the arresting officer.
Probable cause and reasonable suspicion
The standard of probable cause for an arrest is much different than the reasonable suspicion that’s required to detain someone. The police officer simply has to believe that the person participated in criminal activity to have reasonable suspicion. Reasonable suspicion can also cover situations in which a person was attempting to commit a crime, even if the crime hasn’t been committed yet.
If they’re going to place the person under arrest, they need facts — or probable cause — that support their reasonable suspicions. For example, a police officer can pull over a car that’s weaving erratically based on the reasonable suspicion that the driver is impaired, but it’s the odor of alcohol on the driver’s breath, their admission they’ve been drinking and the failed breath test that gives them probable cause for a drunk driving charge.
Anyone who’s facing criminal charges should ensure they understand their rights and options. Getting started on a defense strategy as quickly as possible is important for defendants. This gives them the chance to consider how various things will impact them now and in the future. Having someone who can help you navigate through the criminal justice system can reduce your stress and help you to recognize potential solutions.