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

In Sylvestre, the Fourth District court ruled that a mere court order—showing relevance to an ongoing investigation as opposed to probable cause of a crime—was not good enough. Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "“Get a warrant”—Florida appeals court admonishes cops in two murder cases," 8 Sep. 2018 An Auburn police investigation found probable cause of an assault, but prosecutors decided against charging the rapper, citing a lack of cooperation by his accuser. Sasha Savitsky, Fox News, "Nelly settles with woman over sexual assault lawsuit," 28 Sep. 2018 On Tuesday police found Scheele at home and after hearing his story, did not find a credible threat and found no probable cause to pursue criminal charges. Mará Rose Williams And Tony Rizzo, kansascity, "ACLU sues Independence school district to let senior prankster go to graduation | The Kansas City Star," 25 May 2018 During prior court hearings, judges have found probable cause against Russel and Evenes. Ashley Remkus,, "Suspect claims she was in woods, smoking, praying when child was gunned down, cops say," 18 Apr. 2018 Senate President Joe Negron vowed to make substantial progress in addressing the issue after a Senate investigation found probable cause that former Sen. Jack Latvala violated misconduct rules by harassing Rachel Perrin Rogers. Mary Ellen Klas, miamiherald, "What happened to #MeToo legislation? The spotlight dimmed and bills are all but dead. | Miami Herald," 1 Mar. 2018 An inquest jury found last May found probable cause against seven staffers, the station reports. Crimesider Staff, CBS News, "Three Milwaukee Co. jail staffers charged in inmate's dehydration death," 12 Feb. 2018 Exhaustion had at first seemed a probable cause, if not a precise explanation. Nathan Heller, Vogue, "Claire Foy on Becoming a Mother and Trading Her Crown for a Dragon Tattoo," 10 Oct. 2018 According to a probable cause affidavit from FBI Special Agent Jeff Schiltz, federal authorities began investigating a credit card fraud scheme in 2016. Washington Post, "Top US attorney in Oregon charges 9 in fraud, pot scheme," 12 June 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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Statistics for probable cause

Last Updated

7 Apr 2019

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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

chiefly US, 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

More from Merriam-Webster on probable cause

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with probable cause

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).


not to be persuaded, moved, or stopped

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