Your Guide to Handling Encounters with Florida Police
In general, there are three types of encounters where you may need to interact with police:
- Officers approach you in public;
- They seek you out in a private place like your home or business; or,
- Police stop you while in a car.
While you may not realize it, you do have civil rights that apply to each of these scenarios. The US Constitution, the Declaration of Rights to the Florida Constitution, and other laws protect your interests, so police are limited in how they treat you. Still, these encounters can be tricky if you do not understand your rights – and you can be sure that officers will seize upon your ignorance if it leads to an arrest.
Therefore, you should consult with a Florida criminal defense attorney if you were arrested during an exchange with officers. You might be able to fight the charges on constitutional grounds, potentially leading to a dismissal or acquittal. In addition, you might be able to avoid even being charged with this guide on encounters with law enforcement.
Be mindful of your conduct and behavior. Officers take seconds to assess a situation, so do not set yourself out as aggressive, violent, or argumentative. Common sense, respect, and politeness go a long way in preventing the encounter from escalating. If police sense that you are a threat to the public, they are sure to extend the conversation, ask questions, or conduct additional investigation.
Understand how acts may be perceived. Law enforcement is trained to maintain control and order, so they will respond quickly to your actions. Use extra caution in how you handle yourself physically, especially when responding to an officer’s requests. Announce what you are doing: “Officer, I am reaching into my pocket to get my driver’s license.” This will diffuse any tension the officer experiences when seeing you dig into your pockets.
Ask whether you are free to go. If the encounter proceeds to a certain point, police may be overstepping their authority and violating your civil rights by continuing. Therefore, ask officers if you are free to leave. If police do not allow you to walk away, you are deemed as being under arrest for purposes of constitutional law. You have the right to remain silent, so refuse to answer questions or provide additional information. Your statements may be used in court to the detriment of your interests and potential defenses.
Obtain information during the encounter. Pay close attention to the details when interacting with police, as this information may be useful as your attorney develops a defense strategy. Observe your surroundings, get the names of involved officers, and keep an eye out for witnesses.
Contact a Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer Right Away
If you are facing charges after an encounter with police, please contact Fort Lauderdale criminal attorney Kevin J. Kulik right away to set up a confidential consultation at our office. After reviewing your unique circumstances, we can advise you on your options and get started on a defense strategy for your case.