What Are My Rights If I Am Stopped Or Arrested By a Police Officer?

When you are stopped by a Florida police officer, you may have many questions regarding your rights during the police interaction. Whether it is a traffic stop or they question you in the street, you have rights when it comes to dealing with Police officers in Florida and it is important that you know your rights!

The American Civil Liberties Union published the following about this question:

Question: What if a police officer stops you on the street?


You do not have to answer any questions. You can say, “I do not want to talk to you” and walk away calmly. Or, if you do not feel comfortable doing that, you can ask if you are free to go. If the answer is yes, you can consider just walking away. Do not run from the officer. If the officer says you are not under arrest, but you are not free to go, then you are being detained. Being detained is not the same as being arrested, though an arrest could follow. The police can pat down the outside of your clothing only if they have what is called “reasonable suspicion” (that is to say, an objective reason to suspect) that you might be armed and dangerous. If they search any more than your outer clothing, say clearly, “I do not consent to a search.” If they keep searching you anyway, do not physically resist them. You do not need to answer any questions if you are detained or arrested, except that the police may ask you your name once you have been detained, and you can be arrested in some states for refusing to provide it. [But in Florida, if an officer is not engaged in the lawful execution of a legal duty when he asks you a question, it is perfectly legal for you to not answer him.

Question: What if a police officer stops me while I’m driving?


Keep your hands where the police can see them, and do not make any sudden movements or reach for the floorboard. You must show them your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance if you are asked for those things. The police are also allowed to order you to get out of your car, and they may separate passengers and drivers from each other in order to question them and compare their answers; but no one has to answer any questions [except for maybe the driver if he committed a traffic violation]. The police cannot search your car unless you give them your consent (which you do not have to give), or unless they have “probable cause” to believe (that is to say, knowledge of facts sufficient to support a reasonable belief) that criminal activity is likely taking place, that you have been involved in a crime, or that you have evidence of a crime in your car (such as a gun or drugs). If you do not want your car searched, clearly state that you do not consent. The officer cannot use your refusal to consent as a reason for searching your car.

Question: What should I do if I am arrested?


If the officer intends to question you after arresting you, he has to advise you of your constitutional rights to remain silent, to have an attorney with you when being asked questioned, and to have an attorney appointed to represent you if you cannot afford one. You should exercise all of those rights, even if the officer doesn’t tell you about them. Anything you say can be used against you in court. Therefore, ask to see a lawyer immediately, but do not say anything else. If you use a phone at the police station or jail, be careful: that call may be recorded and can then be used against you later on in court.

Question: What if I am treated badly by the police?

Answer: Write down the officer’s badge number, name, or other identifying information. [It is often written on the front of his uniform.] If you are injured, seek medical attention and take pictures of your injuries as soon as you can. You may be able to sue the police department or at least file a complaint against the officer who hurt you.

If you still have questions regarding your rights when it comes to Florida police stops, call me today at (561) 832-4348 or you can connect with my West Palm Beach Criminal Defense practice online! I am a criminal defense attorney, so call me today so I can answer your questions and defend your rights! Y si hablas español llames 561-236-1021.

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Desde 1990, el Sr. Chapman ha representado a personas que han sido acusadas de cometer delitos de varios tipos, tales como DUI, violencia doméstica, posesión de armas, posesión de drogas, eliminación de antecedentes penales, infracciones de tránsito, asesinato, homicidio involuntario, abuso infantil, delitos sexuales, abuso de personas mayores, apelaciones y violaciones de libertad condicional.
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