Myths About Pre-Arrest Investigations in Florida Criminal Cases
Even if you are not usually a suspicious person, your senses may be able to pick up on the situation when law enforcement is conducting a pre-arrest investigation of your interests. You might have noticed someone following you, someone you know eluded to police involvement, or you received threats about reporting you to officials. Perhaps officers may have paid you a visit at home or your business, taking your suspicion into real-life. Under the circumstances, you are probably wondering whether the US Constitution and the Florida Constitution Declaration of Rights protect you during pre-arrest investigations – and what you can do about it.
The good news is that you DO have rights before an arrest, and the first thing you should do is retain a Florida criminal defense attorney to enforce them. Unfortunately, many people in your position will not take action, often because they believe in myths that can be harmful in a criminal case. Get to the truth by reviewing the following:
Myth: Your rights are limited unless you are under arrest. This is untrue because you have civil rights at any stage or during any encounter with police, though they vary based upon the circumstances. A few of the most important ones are:
- The right to consult with legal counsel;
- The right to remain silent; and,
- The right against self-incrimination, which prohibits police from seizing evidence that constitutes your “statements” – including those that may be in written or electronic format.
Myth: Law enforcement will avoid overstepping. If you think that officers will act within the limits of their authority when conducting a pre-arrest investigation, you could be unpleasantly surprised. Police are concerned with collecting sufficient evidence to support probable cause for an arrest, even if they step on your civil rights in doing so. Law enforcement may go through your trash, talk to your friends and relatives, and conduct checks on your home, business, and vehicles.
Myth: Unofficial statements cannot be used against you in court. In their pre-arrest efforts, police may approach you with questions or try to strike up a conversation – hoping they can get an admission or other statements regarding criminal activity. Beware of these encounters, since your words can be used against you in court when you freely give them.
Myth: You will not need an attorney until after being arrested. This myth could be the most damaging, since you need to retain a lawyer immediately when you realize you are the target of a police probe. Your attorney knows how the laws apply and can ensure that police do not violate your civil rights during an investigation.
A Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Clear Up Pre-Arrest Myths
As you can see, you definitely have legal rights before being arrested on Florida criminal charges, so it is essential to protect them even at the earliest stages of the case. For more information on our legal services for pre-arrest investigations, please contact Fort Lauderdale criminal attorney Kevin J. Kulik. We can set up a confidential consultation to review your circumstances and advise you on defense strategies.