Handling Your Criminal Charges the Right Way
In Florida, you have certain rights regarding criminal charges and arrests. Many people are not fully aware of what they are and are not entitled to, which means your rights may have been violated if you were charged with a crime. The Pensacola criminal defense attorney at The Morris Firm knows the ins and outs of Florida law and can help protect your rights.
Call our firm today at (850) 503-2626 to discuss your case with our team.
The Right to Remain Silent
You have heard it on television, or maybe you learned about it in school. In any event, you have a basic right to not be forced to incriminate yourself. If you find yourself detained or in police custody – in other words, under arrest – the authorities must read your “Miranda Rights” to you. The wording – which stems from the landmark 1966 case Miranda v. Arizona – might vary a little depending on what state you are in.
Regardless of precise wording, your Miranda rights state that:
- You have the right to remain silent
- If you choose to speak, anything you say can potentially be used against you in court
- You have the right to meet with an attorney
- If you can’t afford a private attorney, the state will provide one
An attorney is here to help you by speaking for you, but you also have to help yourself. We advise that you do not speak about your case until you have a Pensacola criminal defense lawyer by your side.
By law, the police cannot stop your car without a good reason – there has to be probable cause that you have committed a crime or broken a law. Maybe it is as simple as speeding, or maybe it is because of a visible problem with your vehicle or a concern for the way you were driving. Regardless, there must be a legitimate reason for pulling you over.
If you are pulled over, there are a few simple guidelines you should follow. First is that it is always a good idea to be calm and polite. There is no reason to get on the officer’s bad side. You also should keep your hands where the officer can see them and follow reasonable instructions, such as providing identification.
Second, you should not volunteer any information that could lead the officer to believe you did anything wrong. Again, be polite. However, after handing over your license and insurance information, there is no need to provide information that could be used against you.
If you are arrested for refusing to talk and the police did not have probable cause for the stop in the first place, The Morris Firm can challenge the arrest. But remember: legal issues are best solved by a lawyer in court, not a driver in a car.
On Foot or on a Bike
Just like you have rights in your car, you have rights when you are outside of a vehicle, too. If you’re walking on foot or riding a bicycle and an officer asks to talk to you, you are under no obligation to talk to them unless you give them some sort of reason to think you have done something wrong.
Again, be calm and be polite but also be firm. If an officer asks “Hey, can I speak to you for a minute?” – you do not have to oblige. Simply say “No, thank you” and go about your business. If they proceed to arrest you without probable cause, that can be fought in court. Keep in mind that if you try to fight it out with the officer on the street, verbally or otherwise, you will limit your options later on.
Your Rights if You Are Arrested
If the police believe you have committed a crime, they can detain you, commonly referred to as being placed under arrest. If you are arrested, remain calm. You will need to give the police your name and identification if you have it – but that is it. You should not say anything other than that you want an attorney.
If the police want to question you, they must first inform you of your Miranda Rights. You should not say anything else to them – do not hurt yourself or your case by saying anything first.
If you have questions about your rights, contact Brandon Morris at The Morris Firm by calling (850) 503-2626.