Probable Cause Versus Reasonable Suspicion: What’s The Difference?

Palmdale Bail Bond Store

The terms “probable cause” and “reasonable suspicion” sound like they have the same meaning and can be used interchangeably. However, they are in fact two very distinct concepts that police must abide by to decide if they can make an arrest.

  • Probable Cause – A police officer must be able to demonstrate knowledge that a reasonable person is, has, or will commit a criminal act. If the police officer can articulate this knowledge with facts and circumstances, they can make an arrest. Probably cause is based upon the standard of a reasonable person.
  • Reasonable Suspicion – A police office may stop and/ or temporarily detain a person if they have reason to believe that person is involved in criminal activity. This reasoning would be based on the police officer’s training and experience. Reasonable suspicion is based upon the standard of a reasonable office.