Reasonable suspicion versus probable cause

 Law enforcement officers use two methods to investigate possible criminal activity: reasonable suspicion and probable cause. Reasonable suspicion means officers have a reasonable belief, sometimes called a hunch, that criminal activity may have occurred. They have no hard evidence to support their belief. Probable cause is more concrete. Probable cause means officers are not just suspicious that criminal activity has occurred; they think it’s likely, or probable, that criminal activity has taken place. Many times reasonable suspicion may evolve into probable cause. This is not always the case, however. Initial contact between an officer and a subject often involves reasonable suspicion rather than probable cause. This is a two-part assignment. Be sure to complete both parts.

Instructions

Part 1

In Part 1 of this assignment you are required to write a one- to two-page narrative in which you: 

  • Distinguish between reasonable suspicion and probable cause.
    • Be sure to illustrate your distinctions between these two terms with examples.  
  • Develop a checklist with a series of questions to ask when assessing reasonable suspicion Versus probably cause (for example, What drew your attention to this particular person?). 
Part 2

In Part 2 of this assignment, you are required to examine the 10 scenarios contained in the Reasonable Suspicion Versus Probable Cause Template [DOCX].

  • Note: The first scenario is completed for you as an example to guide your work on the remaining nine scenarios. 

For each scenario in the template:

  1. Determine whether reasonable suspicion or probable cause applies to each scenario.
  2. Justify your determinations. 
  3. Use three sources to support your writing.
    • Choose sources that are credible, relevant, and appropriate.
    • Cite each source listed on your source page at least one time within your assignment.

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