Illegal Search and Seizure Motion to Suppress
On a motion to suppress, the defendant bears the burden of establishing a search or seizure violated his Fourth Amendment rights. Thus, "it is the defendant who must establish by a preponderance of evidence that he or she is entitled to relief sought in the motion." Rakas v. Illinois, 439 U.S. 128 (1978).
When the Court is confronted with the issue of whether the police officer possessed probable cause for the instant offenses, the standard is to evaluate the "totality of circumstances" in the record".
This now well established legal standard for determining probable cause seeks to reconcile the right of each citizen to be protected from unfounded accusations of crime and the needs of the police to have 'fair' leeway in enforcing the law for the protection of the entire community." Brinegar v. United States, 338 U.S. 160, 176, 93 L. Ed. 1879, 69 S.Ct. 1302,1311 (1949).
"Probable cause exists when 'the facts and circumstances within their police officers' knowledge and of which they had reasonably trustworthy information are sufficient in themselves to warrant a man a reasonable caution in the belief that 'an offense has been or is being committed'." Brinnegar v. United States, 338 U.S. at 175-76, 69 S.Ct. at 1310-11 (quoting Carroll v. United States, 267 U.S. 132, 162 45 S.Ct. 280, 288, 69 L.Ed. 543 (1925).
Pursuant to State v. Maxwell, Del. Supr., 624 A.2d 926 (1993), probable cause is defined as follows:
A police officer has probable cause to believe a defendant has violated 21 Del. C. 4177 . . . 'when the officer possess' information which would warrant a reasonable man in believing that such a crime has been committed. Clendaniel v. Voshell, Del. Supr., 562 A.2d 1167, 1170 (1989).
A finding of probable cause does not require the police officer to uncover information sufficient to prove a suspect's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt or even to prove that guilt is more likely than not.
the possibility there may be a hypothetically innocent explanation of each of several facts revealed during the course of an investigation did not preclude a determination that probable cause exists for an arrest.
'Probable cause exists where the facts and circumstances within the officer's knowledge and of which they had reasonably trustworthy information are sufficient in themselves to warrant a man of reasonable caution 'an offense has been or is being committed.'
Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U.S. 663, 59 L. Ed. 2d 660, 99 S. Ct. 1391 (1979); Coleman v. State, Del. Supr., 562 A.2d 1171, 1174 (1989).
As provided in Spinks v. State, Del. Supr., 571 A.2d 788 (1990), probable cause is further defined as follows:
Under Delaware law, a police officer is authorized to make a warrantless arrest and search when he has probable cause to believe that a crime or a violation of the Motor Vehicle Code has been committed. 21 Del. C. 701; Garner v. State, Del. Supr., 314 A.2d 908, 910 (1973). Probable cause is an elusive concept which is not subject to precise definition.
It lies 'somewhere between suspicion and sufficient evidence to convict' and 'exists when the facts and circumstances within . . . the officer's knowledge . . . are sufficient in themselves to warrant a man of reasonable caution in the belief that an offense has been or is being committed. State v. Cochran, Del. Supr., 372 A.2d 193, 195 (1977).
As stated in State v. Rooney, Del. Super (1995).
. . . the United States Supreme Court has held that 'while effort to fix some general, numerically precise degree of certainty corresponding to 'probable cause' may not be helpful, it is clear that 'only the probability, and not a prima facie showing, of criminal activity is standard of probable cause. . . . the Delaware Supreme Court has held that probable cause 'is now measured, not by precise standards, but by the totality of the circumstances through a caser by case review of 'the factual and practical considerations of everyday life on which reasonable and prudent men, not legal technicians, act.'