probable cause


Definition of probable cause 

: a reasonable ground for supposing that a charge is well-founded

Examples of probable cause in a Sentence

The lawyer argued that there was a lack of probable cause for a search warrant. The police had probable cause to arrest him.

Recent Examples on the Web

The attorneys also stress that Brown’s car was searched without probable cause or a warrant. Michael Mccann,, "Inside Sterling Brown’s compelling lawsuit against the Milwaukee Police Department and City of Milwaukee," 19 June 2018 The federal lawsuit filed Monday alleges Dallas police detained Mark Hughes and his brother, Cory, without reasonable suspicion or probable cause. CBS News, "Man wrongly identified as suspect in 2016 attack sues Dallas police," 12 July 2018 Kendall also said Venckiene failed to show that Lithuanian authorities lacked probable cause to charge her, and that the evidence her attorneys presented did not show a violation of Venckiene’s civil rights. Ted Gregory,, "Suburban woman who fears persecution for exposing corruption in Lithuania fails to convince judge to halt extradition," 12 July 2018 The agreement with the State Board of Education says that after investigating, Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell found that probable cause existed to start the revocation process. Kathleen Megan,, "Former Odyssey Principal Surrenders Educator Certificate Following State Investigation," 10 July 2018 In a probable cause statement filed last year, prosecutors said Almena charged from $300 to $1,400 rent for space in the ramshackle housing, court documents show. James Queally,, "Ghost Ship operators plead no contest to involuntary manslaughter in fire that killed 36 people," 4 July 2018 Gulzow was seen riding down a nearby street on a scooter, according to a probable cause statement obtained by FOX31. Travis Fedschun, Fox News, "Man who wore clown makeup with bladed gloves found guilty in deadly Colorado stabbing," 28 June 2018 In the Hagerstown case, Raven Dennis reported that a former co-worker came to her apartment and allegedly stole her iPhone 8 and $650, according to the police department’s probable cause statement. Zusha Elinson, WSJ, "Police Use of Facial Recognition With License Databases Spur Privacy Concerns," 17 June 2018 Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Rodney Smith agreed there was no probable cause for the seizure and ordered the money returning to the couple. David Ovalle, miamiherald, "'We got bills to pay, sweetie.' Cops forced to return stripper's $19,934 in cash," 6 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'probable cause.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of probable cause

circa 1676, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

20 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for probable cause

The first known use of probable cause was circa 1676

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More Definitions for probable cause

probable cause


English Language Learners Definition of probable cause

law : evidence that gives someone a reason to think that a crime has been or is being committed

probable cause

Legal Definition of probable cause 

see cause sense 2

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Comments on probable cause

What made you want to look up probable cause? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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