Probable cause is generally the standard required for the police to secure a warrant to (1) arrest a person; (2) search a home, storage locker, automobile, or other place in which persons have a reasonable expectation of privacy; or (3) seize property believed to be related to a crime. This probable cause requirement is derived from the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states that:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
The probable cause required to secure an arrest warrant, for example, generally requires that there be a reasonable basis to believe the person to be arrested committed a crime. The probable cause required to secure a search warrant generally requires that there be a reasonable basis to believe there is evidence of a crime in the place the police seek to search. And the probable cause required to seize property generally requires there be a reasonable basis to believe the property is related to a crime or criminal activity.