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 boy and girl — along with two of Franke’s other children — were placed into the custody of the Division of Children and Family Services, according to a probable cause statement. Jordan Miller, The Salt Lake Tribune, 9 Sep. 2023 After the country star, 27, was arrested for obstruction of investigation in his home state of Oklahoma on Thursday, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol has detailed what went down during the ordeal in a probable cause affidavit. Brenton Blanchet, Peoplemag, 9 Sep. 2023 Both are expected to appear in court for their hearings on Friday, according to the probable cause affidavit. Daysia Tolentino, NBC News, 5 Sep. 2023 Who is Ralph Yarl? Yarl, 17, mistakenly went to Lester's home while trying to pick up his brothers on April 13, according to a probable cause statement obtained by KCUR, Kansas City's NPR affiliate. USA TODAY, 1 Sep. 2023 Following testimony from 12 witnesses in a Liberty courtroom, Clay County Judge Louis Angles said that there was enough probable cause that a felony has been committed. Deena Zaru, ABC News, 31 Aug. 2023 The board concluded that the crash’s probable cause was the buildup of ice on the elevated stretch of the roadway. Zaeem Shaikh, Dallas News, 31 Aug. 2023 On May 22, Indiana State Police detectives were alerted to the case via a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, according to the probable cause affidavit. Staff Report, Chicago Tribune, 22 Aug. 2023 Travis Lang was arrested Monday in connection to the shooting death of 24-year-old Dylan McGinnis in a car in the 2900 block of East 11th Street near Rural Street shortly before 11:30 p.m., according to jail records and a preliminary probable cause affidavit. Lawrence Andrea, The Indianapolis Star, 17 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'probable cause.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

circa 1676, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of probable cause was circa 1676

Dictionary Entries Near probable cause

Cite this Entry

“Probable cause.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Sep. 2023.

Legal Definition

probable cause

see cause sense 2

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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