Felonies are serious charges that come with serious consequences. This is why there is a heavy burden on the prosecution to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt and why there are certain constitutional safeguards available to Maryland residents facing allegations of committing felonies.
One of the constitutional safeguards contained in the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution requires that probable cause exist before a warrant can be granted, an arrest can be made or a seizure conducted. This means that there must either be a reasonable basis for believing that the crime has been committed or that there is evidence of the committed crime in the place to be searched. Since the definition of probable cause has not been specified, courts generally look at the context to determine if probable cause existed or not.
With regards to an arrest, courts require that the arrest be based on probable cause, even when made pursuant to an arrest warrant. To find probable cause, courts look at the entirety of the situation, including everything the arresting officer knew or would have reasonably known at the time the arrest was made. When the arrest has been made without a warrant and was not based on probable cause, the arrest will likely be considered invalid and resulting evidence will have to be suppressed.
An arrest related to felonies such as drug crimes or murder carry with them a stigma that can affect a person’s life for many years to come. Whether or not the person is convicted of the crime, an arrest alone has the ability to taint a person’s reputation, which is why there needs to be a basis for the arrest itself.