Anyone living in Florida has the right to be treated with respect if the police or other law enforcement officers approach them. But many people aren’t sure how to react when having contact with officers.
If police suspect you of a crime, it’s advisable to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. However, it’s also crucial to understand what rights you have if stopped by police, the FBI or immigration agents.
Responding to officers in differing scenarios
Being stopped or questioned by a police officer can be a frightening and intimidating experience. Here are things to keep in mind in several situations:
Being stopped and questioned: If an officer approaches you while you are walking or jogging, stay calm, avoid arguing, obstructing or resisting the officer. Your rights include:
- Ask if you can leave, and If so, walk away calmly and quietly
- If arrested, you have a right to know why
- Tell the officer you choose to remain silent and will not answer their questions
- Request an attorney immediately if you are arrested
- You do not have to identify yourself unless you are suspected of a crime
- Don’t resist, but do not agree to have your belongings searched
Being stopped in a vehicle: Pull your car over as safely and quickly as possible. Remain in the vehicle, shut off the engine and place your hands on the steering wheel. Supply requested documents, such as a driver’s license, proof of insurance and vehicle registration. You can refuse to have your car searched unless the officer believes it contains evidence. You and any passengers have the right to remain silent.
Officers arrive at your home: If officers show up at your residence, do not allow them to enter unless they have certain types of court orders, such as a search or arrest warrant. Ask them to slide the papers under the door or hold it up so you can read them first. Even if the warrant says they can enter, you have the right to remain silent. You have no obligation to identify yourself to an immigration agent.
What are your responsibilities?
If any of these situations happen to you, it’s essential to remain calm, don’t interfere or obstruct officers, lie to them or give them false documents. Prepare your family in case you are arrested, which can include contacting a defense attorney. It’s also crucial to remember and document every detail of the incident so your lawyer can help determine whether your rights were violated.