What to do if Florida Police Arrest You at Your Home
In an encounter with police while you are in your car or a public place, officers need probable cause to arrest you. The laws are very different, however, if you are arrested at your home or business. The US and Florida Constitutions both prohibit unreasonable searches and seizures unless police have a warrant supported by probable cause. Because these are places where you have a reasonable expectation of privacy, there are limitations on what officers can do. While your first move when arrested at home should be calling a Florida criminal defense lawyer, you can take advantage of some additional tips.
Step Outside and Close the Door: Not having a warrant will not stop police from trying to get in your house and, once inside, anything they see is fair game for a seizure. To avoid such a situation, do not give them opportunity to access your home. Step outside and shut the door behind you. Do not go back in for a coat or personal effects, as officers may still take a peek inside. Accept the fact that you are under arrest and comply with police orders.
Review the Warrant: Chances are likely that law enforcement officers do have a warrant if they are arresting you at home in a non-emergency situation. You should still step outside and close the door, but then request to see the warrant. It must comply with constitutional requirements, including:
- A detailed description of the area to be searched;
- A specific definition of the items that police are looking for;
- Factors regarding the probable cause that allows officers to search;
- A judge’s signature and stamp;
- The date the warrant was issued; and,
- Many other factors, depending on the details of your case.
If the warrant does not strictly comply with these elements, there is not much you can do at the moment of your arrest. However, any evidence that police seize pursuant to an improper warrant can be tossed out of court at your trial. In some cases, the charges may even be dismissed before you get that far in the process.
Don’t Say a Word: When under arrest, you have the right to remain silent, along with other constitutional rights specified in your Miranda warning. Even if you want to express your innocence, now is not the time. Don’t speak and avoid answering questions. The only words you should utter should be requesting to call a criminal defense lawyer.
Contact a Florida Criminal Defense Attorney Right Away
If police violate your constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure, any information they uncover could be inadmissible in court. Without key evidence, prosecutors may not be able to convict you. However, a judge will not automatically find improperly seized evidence inadmissible. You must raise the issue according to court procedural rules, so it is essential to retain a lawyer immediately.
To hear more about your rights when arrested at home, please contact attorney Kevin J. Kulik to schedule a consultation. We serve clients throughout Broward County from our office in Fort Lauderdale, FL.