Know Your Legal Rights!
Counsel from the Sarasota Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with a violation of the Florida Criminal Code,
my firm encourages you to learn about the rights you legally possess.
In some criminal investigations - especially in cases involving
driving under the influence - arresting officers may intentionally or unintentionally act in ways
that violate your rights. In order to effectively exercise your rights
as a United States citizen, you need to know the liberties you possess
during encounters with police officers.
Knowing your rights gives you a measure of protection and confidence as
you handle criminal charges and prepare your defense. The following information
is meant only as a guide and not a substitute for qualified, competent,
and experienced legal counsel. If you are arrested or questioned by the
police, you should contact a lawyer at your earliest opportunity.
Right to Remain Silent
Under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, the government
may not compel a citizen to give evidence against himself or herself.
If questioned by the police, you have the right to politely decline to
answer any questions. Once you have invoked this right, only you can waive
it. You should only waive your right to remain silent when in close consultation
with or instructed by a lawyer and if it is in your best interests. If
you do waive your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, exercise your
Sixth Amendment right to be represented by a lawyer during questioning.
As a general rule, however, your position will rarely be improved by talking
to the police.
When exercising your right to remain silent, speak in a clear and respectful
manner. An effective response to questioning by law enforcement would
be, "I do not wish to talk to you or any member of the police until
I have consulted with a lawyer." No matter what you say, be clear
in your intention to say nothing until your lawyer is present. You do
not need to wait for the police to read you the Miranda Warning or place
you under arrest to invoke your right to remain silent and request an
attorney. Your rights apply during any encounter with a police officer.
The decision to talk with the police remains up to the citizen. If you
are arrested or otherwise taken into custody by the police, they are entitled
to obtain your name and basic identifying information from you. Under
certain circumstances, failing to comply or giving false information to
the police may be a crime.
Right to Be Free from Unreasonable Search and Seizure
In some instances, the police may confront an individual and ask for permission
or consent to search. As a citizen, you have the right to decline, unless
a warrant is presented. Under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution
of the United States, every citizen is free from unreasonable searches
and seizures. This amendment requires an officer to present probable cause
in order to obtain a warrant from the court.
While there are many exceptions to the warrant requirement, you must be
clear in declining your permission to have your person, home, vehicle,
or other property searched. Should the officer persist to search without
a warrant or an applicable legal exception, this may be grounds to have
the evidence suppressed and charges dismissed. If the officer ignores
your request, be respectful and allow him or her to conduct the search.
Allowing the search to continue without your permission does not waive
your Fourth Amendment rights. You may also withdraw consent or permission
during the search.
Retain The Law Office of Wyndel G. Darville, PLLC Today
If the police believe that you are a criminal suspect, you can expect them
to do everything in their power to find evidence of your guilt. You have
no obligation to help them. The police possess virtually unlimited resources,
a variety of techniques and investigative tactics, and relentless determination.
With those resources, your case will require equally persistent, strong
and knowledgeable defense. For experienced representation and clarification
of any of your rights as a citizen,
contact my firm!