Criminal defense cases cover both criminal suits — charges brought by the government to punish an individual for an act classified as a crime — and civil suits — claims brought by individuals or organizations as a dispute over rights and duties.
Most criminal defendants are familiar with the term probable cause; however, many are surprised to find out officers need only “reasonable suspicion” to perform an investigatory stop. In State v. Staten the Nebraska Supreme Court stated “police can constitutionally stop and briefly detain a person for investigative purposes if the police have a reasonable suspicion, supported by articulable facts, that criminal activity exists, even if probable cause is lacking under the fourth amendment.” 238 Neb. 13 (1991). For criminal defense attorneys and their clients the law regarding reasonable suspicion and what constitutes a legal stop is extremely important, as it often determines what evidence is allowed in at trial, which in many cases is the difference between being found guilty versus your case being dismissed. Issues involving a stop, a detention or search and seizure are almost always present in cases involving drugs offenses or prosecutions for DUI.