Probable cause and Reasonable suspicion are two legal terms used in the United States legal system, in this essay I will be comparing and contrasting the two terms as well as providing examples. Probable cause is the level of facts and evidence required to obtain a warrant for, or as an exception to the warrant requirements for, making an arrest or conducting a personal or property search, etc. when criminal charges are being considered. Courts usually find probable cause when there is a reasonable basis for believing that a crime may have been committed (for an arrest) or when evidence of the crime is present in the place to be searched (for a search). Under exigent circumstances, probable cause can also justify a warrantless search or seizure. Persons arrested without a warrant are required to be brought before a competent authority shortly after the arrest for a prompt judicial determination of probable cause. Reasonable suspicion is the legal standard by which a police officer has the right to briefly detain a suspect for investigatory purposes and frisk the outside of their clothing for weapons, but not drugs. While many factors contribute to a police officer’s level of authority in a given situation, the reasonable suspicion standard requires facts or circumstances that would lead a reasonable person to believe that a suspect has, is, or will commit a crime. While reasonable suspicion does not require hard evidence, it does require more than a hunch. A combination of particular facts, even if each is individually insignificant, can form the basis of reasonable suspicion. For example, police may have reasonable suspicion to detain someone who fits a description of a criminal suspect, a suspect who drops a suspicious object after seeing police, or a suspect in a high crime area who runs after seeing police. Probable cause and reasonable suspicion are both governed by the 4th amendment which states “The right of the people to be secure in their persons,
References: Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213 (1983),
New Jersey v. T. L. O., 469 U.S. 325 (1985),
O 'Connor v. Ortega, 480 U.S. 709 (1987)
Carroll v. United States, 267 U.S. 132 (1925)
Regini, L. A. (July 1999). "The Motor Vehicle Exception: When and Where to Search." FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin. 68, 27-33.
Handler, J. G. (1994). Ballentine 's Law Dictionary (Legal Assistant ed.). Albany: Delmar. p. 431. ISBN 0827348746.