It can be overwhelming and frightening to find yourself facing arrest and criminal charges. Whether this is your first offense or you have a criminal record, you know how important it is to act quickly and work to protect your rights and interests. One of the first steps of this process is to carefully examine the circumstances of your arrest.
North Carolina police cannot arrest someone simply because they feel like it. There must be a valid and clear reason to take this course of action, which is something called probable cause. If there was no valid reason for your arrest or you are certain that you experienced a violation of your constitutional rights, you can fight back. If there is evidence of these things, it could negate the entire case against you.
What counts as probable cause?
The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution outlines the rights of each citizen regarding unlawful arrests, searches and seizures. It states that each person has protection against unreasonable searches of their personal property. It also states that law enforcement cannot seize people or property without a clear cause to do so. In many cases, the following may give law enforcement probable cause:
- Police observed things that could indicate a crime took place, including smelling certain things, seeing people act in specific ways or noticing objects often related to criminal activity.
- Law enforcement obtained information from an investigation or witness accounts that pointed to a specific person as involved in criminal activity.
- Police gathered or observed circumstantial evidence that pointed to the possibility that criminal activity had taken place.
Police have a certain amount of objectivity in deciding when there is probable cause to make an arrest. There is sometimes debate over whether circumstantial evidence or behavior is enough to place a person under arrest. It is your right to challenge the cause for your arrest and to fight for the protection of your constitutional rights and long-term personal interests.
Your defense strategy
The process of developing the right defense strategy should start as soon as possible after an arrest or as soon as you learn you are under investigation. An assessment of the unique circumstances of your case can help you see how you can confront the charges against you effectively. It is not easy to challenge an unlawful arrest or successfully protest the actions of a police officer, which is why it is helpful to work with an experienced defense attorney from the very beginning.