What Are the Possible Requirements for Probable Cause in Missouri?

Understanding the requirements for probable cause in Missouri is vital if you’re suspected of committing a crime. Learn more here. 

Kimberly2 1Author:

Kimberly J. Benjamin, Founder & Managing Attorney

December 01. 2021.

Probable Cause Laws: Requirements for Probable Cause in Missouri

Before we look at the possible requirements for probable cause in Missouri, let’s first understand what probable cause is. 

What Is Probable Cause in Missouri?

In criminal law, probable cause is the legal standard in which law enforcement officers have reasonable grounds or suspicion to believe that an individual has committed a crime or is going to commit a crime. It is followed by obtaining an arrest warrant, conducting property and personal search, and seizing property relating to the suspected crime.

Legal cause to seize property, search, or arrest exists when the circumstances brought forward by an officer would lead to reasonable suspicion.

Possible Requirements for a Probable Cause for an Arrest in Missouri

According to Missouri laws, police officers need to have valid reasons that provide a reasonable basis to believe that criminal activity was committed, show evidence of a crime, or prove a crime is yet to be committed.

So, the laws of Missouri provide that probable cause must be based on specific facts instead of suspicions.

Application to Arrests

The Fourth Amendment states that any arrest should be based on probable cause. Whether or not there is a probable cause will highly depend on the totality of the circumstances.

However, the probable cause remains a flexible concept, and what generally constitutes the totality of facts and circumstances will depend on how Missouri courts interpret it. A lack of probable cause will cause a warrantless arrest to be invalid. Any evidence, confessions, or physical evidence resulting from that arrest will automatically be void.

What Is Reasonable Search and Seizure?

If you have been granted probable cause, it is wise to know and understand search and seizure laws. According to Missouri laws, search, and seizure is reasonable if the police officers issue a warrant from a judge based on considered probable cause to believe that a suspect has committed a crime. A search and seizure will be reasonable if it is authorized by law and the law itself is reasonable. 

Missouri Search and Seizure Laws

According to the law, there are certain circumstances where a search may be reasonable without a warrant requirement. Missouri courts have carved out a series of exceptions for the following:

  • Motor vehicle searches
  • Consent searches
  • Evidence in plain view
  • Border searches
  • Exigent circumstances and cases in which public safety is at risk

When it comes to seizing property, this is met when the facts and circumstances before a law enforcement officer reasonably indicate that the property or item seized or set to be seized is stolen, contraband, or forms part of the evidence of a crime.

    Warrant Requirement

    For Missouri police officers to obtain a warrant, they need to first sign an affidavit detailing circumstances and facts which will form a reasonable basis to search. An affidavit in support of the warrant will always include the police officer’s observations and findings. 

    The affidavit will also include any witnesses or victims who are an essential factor. The judges will then examine the affidavit. Once they are convinced, they can now issue warrants. Failure to determine probable cause will render a warrantless search.

    How Do Police Conduct a Legal Search and Seizure? How Many Days Is a Search Warrant Valid?

    A police officer will conduct a legal search and seizure if they have valid reasons that provide a reasonable and factual basis to believe that a crime was committed or is set to be committed. A police officer will conduct the search and seizure by using their specialization to detect any tools or gestures which may exhibit a possibility of criminal activity.

    A police officer can also conduct a legal search by examining and observing information gathered from any witnesses, victims, or informants.

    Once law enforcement officers are issued a search warrant from a court magistrate, the warrant shall be executed ten days after the issuance date. A search warrant executed within these ten days shall be believed to have been timely executed, and no other timeliness needs to be made.

    Once the ten days are over, the warrant is considered void unless executed. Any records and documents of the court related to the search warrants are not intended to be open to the public. The documents can only be in public until the execution of the warrant or the ten days has expired. A warrant is invalid if it has surpassed the ten-day period.

    Statement of Probable Cause

    A statement of probable cause must always be in writing and will always;

    • State the defendant’s name, and if the name is not known, then the defendant is designated by description by which they can be identified reasonably.
    • State the dates and the location to where the offense took place.
    • State all facts that support a finding of a reasonable belief that an offense was committed and the person being accused committed it.
    • State facts that support a finding of reasonable suspicion or grounds when a warrant is requested.
    • State the facts mentioned therein are actual.
    • Be signed and bearing notice that any false statements made or mentioned therein are punishable by law.

    Get Legal Help With Your Case Involving Probable Cause in Missouri

    Probable cause is a critical concept in Missouri criminal law. There are numerous scenarios in which determining whether actions by law enforcement officers were primarily supported by probable cause will depend on the unique facts and circumstances of your case. That is why having an experienced defense attorney is highly recommended, as they will ensure your rights are protected and are not exploited at any given time.

    On that note, our criminal defense lawyers in Jackson County, MO, can help you if you find yourself facing probable cause for a crime. We aim to ensure that all our prospective clients obtain a favorable outcome in their cases and not push them to accept a suboptimal plea deal.

    Criminal defense is the main focus of our trusted lawyers in Kansas City, Missouri. Our leading attorney is committed to defending the rights and freedoms of our clients who turn to us after being arrested, being searched without a warrant, or when facing an investigation. We ensure we exhaust all the available tools and information to create a robust defense for your charges.

    Time is of the essence, so we invite you to contact us as soon as possible for a free consultation with one of our top-rated lawyers in Grandview, MO.

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