Appendix b: guide to articulating probable cause
Overview of appendix b: guide to articulating probable cause
Probable cause to authorize a search exists if there is a
reasonable belief ,based on facts , that the person or evidence sought is at the place to be searched. Reasonable belief is more than mere suspicion. Witness or source should be asked three questions:
- What is where and when? Get the facts!
- Be specific: how much, size, color, etc.
- Is it still there (or is information stale)?
- If the witness saw a joint in barracks room two weeks ago, it is probably gone; the information is stale.
- If the witness saw a large quantity of marijuana in barracks room one day ago, probably some is still there; the information is not stale.
- How do you know? Which of these apply?
- “I saw it there.” Such personal observation is extremely reliable.
- “He [the suspect] told me.” Such an admission is reliable.
- “His [the suspect’s] roommate/wife/ friend told me.” This is hearsay. Get details and call in source if possible.
- “I heard it in the barracks.” Such rumor is unreliable unless there are specific corroborating and verifying details.
- Why should I believe you? Which of these apply?
- Witness is a good, honest soldier; you know him from personal knowledge or by reputation or opinion of chain of command.
- Witness has given reliable information before; he has a good track record (CID may have records).
- Witness has no reason to lie.
- Witness has truthful demeanor.
- Witness made statement under oath. (“Do you swear or affirm that any information you give is true to the best of your knowledge, so help you God?”)
- Other information corroborates or verifies details.
- Witness made admission against own interests.
- The determination that probable cause exists must be based on facts, not only on the conclusion of others.
- The determination should be a common sense appraisal of the totality of all the facts and circumstances presented.