Probable cause

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Probable cause

My son’s mother and I had a dispute in
her front yard in front of three
witnesses. She called the police and
told them I physically assaulted her by
slaming her face into an object. The
police officer spoke to all three
witnesses. All three stated I did not
touch her. She had no physical marks
and stated she was not hurt. Refused
medical treatment and only asked that I
be arrested. What was probable cause to
arrest and charge me?

Asked on September 29, 2016 under Criminal Law, Missouri

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Probable cause is nothing more than reasonable grounds--a decent reason, if you would--to think that a crime was committed. It is far less than the standard of proof or evidence needed to convict, which is "beyond a reasonable doubt," or that only an unreasonable person could possibly think you were not guilty. Being charged, since it takes less evidence, does not mean that you will be convicted; there could be enough evidence to charge, but not enough to convict. In this case, the probable cause is presumably your mother's testimony: for some reason, despite the lack of physical evidence and the other witness's testimony, the authorities thought her testimony sufficiently credible as to make it reasonably likely that you did assault her.


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