Probable Cause Affidavits in Assault Cases

Probable Cause Affidavits in Assault Cases

Charlie explains the role and significance of a probable cause affidavit in assault cases.


Q: What is a Probable Cause (PC) Affidavit in Assault Cases?

A: Charlie explains that the PC affidavit, written by the arresting officer, summarizes the evidence against the defendant in an assault case. It's a requirement of the Fourth Amendment to ensure arrests are based on probable cause.

Q: Who Reviews the Probable Cause Affidavit and What Do They Do?

A: The magistrate reviews the PC affidavit to ensure everything was done legally, sets the bond, and determines any bond conditions, which in assault cases may include no-contact orders, stay-aways, or Emergency Protective Orders (EPOs).

Q: Is the Probable Cause Affidavit a Public Record?

A: Yes, the PC affidavit is public record and is available online, typically 3-5 days after the arrest. In Travis County, for example, it can be accessed online, though an attorney may obtain it sooner.

Q: Do Clients Often Feel the PC Affidavit is Exaggerated or Incomplete?

A: Clients in assault cases often feel the PC affidavit exaggerates or omits facts, which is probably true since the officer is not required to include all evidence or observations in the PC affidavit, unlike in an offense report.

Q: What is the Purpose of the PC Affidavit, and How is it Different from the Offense Report?

A: The PC affidavit is primarily to justify the arrest of one person and often includes only the facts unfavorable to the arrested individual. Prosecutors typically focus on the offense report and other evidence, while the PC affidavit is mainly for the magistrate judge.

Q: How Can the Probable Cause Affidavit be Useful for a Defense Attorney?

A: The PC affidavit can be valuable for defense attorneys, as it reveals the worst facts against the defendant, allowing them to prepare their defense accordingly.

Q: What Does a Typical Assault PC Affidavit Include?

A: Charlie describes a typical assault PC affidavit as being two pages long, with one page detailing the narrative of the allegations, explaining why the officer believes the defendant committed assault. The magistrate judge then reviews this and sets the bond and additional conditions, such as no threatening or harassing behavior.