Texas Drug Charges and Probable Cause
If you are facing a drug charge – even if it is a relatively minor one – a conviction can wreak havoc in your life, and bringing your strongest defense is critical. Many such defenses hinge on probable cause, which makes better understanding how probable cause works in your case important.
The Fourth Amendment
The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States protects all citizens from unreasonable search and seizures, and this is why the issue of probable cause matters. For a search of yourself or your property to be valid, the officer conducting the search must have probable cause for doing so. Ultimately, every detention, arrest, search, or seizure must be based on probable cause for any information that flows out of the event to be considered valid.
What Is Probable Cause?
In the State of Texas, probable cause refers to a mixture of facts and circumstances that lead law enforcement to think that it is probable that a crime was committed, is being committed, or is about to be committed. For example, if the involved officers in your case see something (based on evidence) that leads them to reasonably believe you are in possession of illegal drugs, it might amount to probable cause. The evidence in question, however, cannot be a hunch about you or the situation.
When Does Probable Cause Come into Play?
There are three situations when probable cause tends to be a factor, and these include:
Before making an arrest
After an arrest has been made
After charges have been filed
Hearings related to probable cause must occur within 48 hours of detention. Law enforcement cannot postpone a probable cause hearing in an attempt to buy time (in which to manufacture probable cause after the fact, for example).
Before Making an Arrest
If the police obtain a warrant prior to arresting you on drug charges, their burden of probable cause is satisfied. If they have no warrant, it is a different matter, and the judge will be required to determine if the officers had probable cause for making the arrest based on the facts and evidence involved.
After an Arrest Has Been Made
If you have been arrested on drug charges, your first appearance before the judge will likely be at your probable cause hearing. Here, the judge will determine if the police met their burden of probable cause, and if not, law enforcement will no longer be able to hold you in custody.
After Charges Have Been Filed
After drug charges have been filed against you, there is another kind of probable cause hearing that can happen, and it involves the judge hearing testimony regarding whether or not a crime was committed, and, if there was, if there was adequate probable cause involved to arrest you for the crime. If so, your case will move forward in the legal process – heading toward trial.
Consult with an Experienced Killeen Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you are facing drug charges, Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard – proudly serving Killeen, Texas – has impressive experience successfully defending the constitutional rights of clients like you. To learn more, please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 254-501-4040 today.