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Reasonable Suspicion Vs Probable Cause

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          Probable cause and reasonable suspicion in law enforcement are important terms used as a guideline to police officers or law enforcement agencies (Lushbaugh, 2012). The law enforcement officers and agencies are required to establish if there is reasonable suspicion or the probable cause that can instigate them to take certain actions regarding a certain criminal situation. Every officer is required to handle each situation based on the probable cause or a reasonable suspicion. Probable cause is defined as the actions or things that are obvious and factual forming part of the evidence. The evidence is obtained in a logical way that would lead the law enforcement agent or officer to believe that one has committed a crime, hence a conviction. According to the Fourth Amendment 1791, a warrant is only issued when there is a probable cause for arrest of a suspect (Lushbaugh, 2012).

On the other hand, reasonable suspicion takes place when a law enforcement officer, while exercising comprehension of the law. Furthermore, the officer exercises perseverance and great skills, uses intuition or belief that there is a crime committed or about to be committed (Lushbaugh, 2012). The law enforcement officer stops the supposedly suspect and performs an investigation on the suspect or in their residence. In case the suspect is thought to be armed with a weapon, the officer “pats” the suspect down after which they are permitted to leave or arrested depending on the outcome. Reasonable suspicion in criminal cases is followed by an elaborate and extensive investigation to prove the suspicion through concrete evidence before conviction of a suspect (Lushbaugh, 2012). Probable cause in criminal cases leads to a search warrant and collection of the obvious evidence to make a conviction of the suspect.


Lushbaugh, C. (2012). Criminal investigation: Basic perspectives. Boston: Prentice Hall.

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