Arrests of black men at Starbucks prompts outrage

Police misconduct is surely nothing new. Nearly every day there’s another new story about a cop overstepping their boundaries and ignoring legal procedures, particularly when it comes to arrests.

Just last week, two black men were unjustly arrested at a Starbucks. Two minutes after the men arrived at the store, employees stated that a purchase must be made to be on the premises. The men responded that they were there for a business meeting and were waiting for another person to arrive before ordering. Soon after the employees called the cops and the men were arrested as shown in a video that has since gone viral with many claiming that the arrest was an act of racial discrimination.

But contrary to police actions, cops are not above the law and cannot make an arrest without reason. There are laws and constitutional protections in place to prevent and fight police misconduct. Police must have probable cause to make an arrest.

What is probable cause?

Probable cause

If a reasonable person would believe that an individual is about to commit a crime, in the process of committing a crime or committed a crime then there would be probable cause to conduct a search and make an arrest. Probable cause that could lead to a search or arrest can include statements that a suspect elicits, illegal contraband an officer spots in plain view or statements made by a witness.

A warrant

If police have a search warrant, they can legally search a subject and make an arrest. Search warrants are issued by judges who believe that there is enough probable cause that justifies further investigation. Without a warrant or probable cause, suspects have the right to invoke their Fourth Amendment right and refuse to consent to searches and seizures.

Unlawful arrests send thousands of people to jail every year. Luckily, victims do have recourse and can act against the police for their misconduct. If you believe that you have been a victim of a false arrest you may want to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you to take action.