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Copyright (c) 1992 New England School of Law
New England Law Review

COMMENT: County of Riverside v. McLaughlin: The "Promptness" of a Probable Cause Determination

Winter, 1992

27 New Eng. L. Rev. 411


Elizabeth J. Morahan



It is fairly easy to imagine a situation where, by a strange sequence of events, you find yourself unjustifiably under arrest and in the local jail; perhaps you were mistaken for a suspect in a crime. 1 Once the lack of justification for the arrest was detected by a judicial officer at your probable cause hearing, the mistaken identity apparent, you would be free to leave; a clear inconvenience to you, the arrestee, but a trade-off most reasonable citizens would arguably accept in exchange for the protections provided by a vigilant police force.

A recent United States Supreme Court ruling, however, could change what could fairly be described as a harmless case of mistaken identity into a disastrous situation for those who are unjustifiably arrested. According to the holding in County of Riverside v. McLaughlin, 2 states have forty-eight hours from the time of a warrantless arrest to provide judicial review of the facts and circumstances giving rise to the arrest. 3 At the probable cause hearing, the judicial officer is to determine whether probable cause existed for the arrest in the first place. If no probable cause existed for the arrest, the arrest was unjustified; consequently, further detention of the one-time suspect is unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

This Comment examines the Fourth Amendment requirements as addressed by the Supreme Court in County of Riverside v. McLaughlin. 4 This class action 5 was ...
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