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Personal Rights FAQs
The police officer never gave me a Miranda warning following my drunk driving arrest.
A lack of Miranda warnings is not grounds to have your DUI case dismissed. However, if law enforcement has violated your Miranda rights and questioned you improperly, without the presence of council, then a good offense attorney may be able to have those responses suppressed from evidence, thereby not allowing the state to offer that at the trial against you.
Is refusing to let the police search me an admission of guilt?
Refusal of allowing the police to search you is not an admission of guilt. However, the police officers will think it is. They will point blankly tell you that it is. However, that is not admissible evidence that can be brought in front of a jury or the court. There are too many different factors that come into play if we are going to legitimately look at an individual and their constitutional rights of whether or not they’re going to agree to different searches, and things taking place. Just because you refused to follow law enforcement’s orders does not equate that you are guilty of anything.
What are Miranda rights or Miranda warnings?
Miranda rights are the warnings that law enforcement is supposed to advise any individual which law enforcement wishes to question if that person is in a custodial setting. In other words, if law enforcement believe that you’ve committed a crime, they’re placing you under arrest and they want to talk to you about, “Why’d you do it?” Then prior to asking you the details of, “Why’d you do it,” they need to read you your Miranda rights. If you give up your Miranda rights, you’re agreeing to speak with law enforcement. They will record down or make notes of your responses of, “Why did you do it?”
If you invoke your Miranda rights, you’re telling law enforcement, “At this time, I have a right to have an attorney present before I answer simple questions or any question. I’m not wishing to answer any questions at this time until my attorney’s present.” Law enforcement can’t use that against you. Those are your Miranda rights and they come in to play when law enforcement wants to question you.
What are house arrest and electronic monitoring?
In Florida, an individual pre-trial or post-trial can be sentenced to a period of time of house arrest or electronic monitoring. House arrest is just like it says. You are under arrest in your own home. Certain times courts will allow an individual who is on house arrest to leave their house and to go to work, or to leave their house and go meet with their attorney, or to leave their house and go perform community service. That individual is generally being electronically monitored by GPS to determine where they’re at all times. If an individual has gone away from that home at a time that’s not previously approved, a signal is sent by the GPS unit alerting law enforcement and that individual can and generally will be immediately arrested for a violation.
What if the search and seizure is not legal?
If the search and seizure by law enforcement is determined by a court of law to be improper, then that evidence that was gathered and the fact that they searched you is not admissible to the trier fact, generally a jury or a judge. For instance, if they found an illegal gun in your car, the government can never use the fact that an illegal gun was found in your car so they could never convict you. Again with a drug offense, if they found illegal drugs then they could not use that evidence against you. The chances of success in the prosecution without the main piece of evidence is very minimal.
When do the police have to read me my rights in Florida?
According to Florida law, an individual is entitled to have his Miranda rights read to him when law enforcement is going to conduct what’s called custodial interrogation. Custodial interrogation is when you are in a custodial situation. Being arrested is a simple example, but a lot of times it’s prior to you being arrested. You must be in that custodial situation and you must be being questioned or interrogated by law enforcement.
Again, if you have those two components, then every individual is entitled to have those Miranda rights read to them to see whether or not they wish to invoke those rights and remain silent, or waive those rights, answer the questions of law enforcement and see where the chips fall from there.
Do I have to consent when the police ask me to allow them to search my car or house?
An individual in Florida does not have to consent to the search of their vehicle, of their vessel, of their house. They are allowed to not consent and require law enforcement in the right circumstances to have to obtain a warrant from a neutral judge to be able to search the vehicle, the house, or whatever it is that they wish to search. Law enforcement will continually attempt to get an individual to try to consent because it saves them the time and energy in essence to try to be able to get that warrant from a neutral judge. Again each of these steps are constitutional. Standards apply to these steps. To safeguard an individual’s rights, that is why a warrant is required.
What rights do I have in Florida when a law enforcement officer asks me questions?
When law enforcement officers are questioning you, you do have the right to have the assistance of an attorney present with you during those questions. You do not have to answer any questions by law enforcement officers. You have the right to again insist that you have counsel with you prior to answering those types of questions dealing with the outlining crime.
Do I have to give consent to a law enforcement officer to search my car in Florida?
In Florida you do not have to consent to a search of your vehicle. If law enforcement officers pull you over and they request the ability to search your vehicle, you do not have to agree to same. If you refuse consent to search your vehicle, law enforcement will usually try to summons, either if it’s a drug issue, a dog to be able to make a search of your vehicle around the perimeter, or in some other way try to gather enough evidence to where they, themselves, can search the vehicle, and it does not rely upon you consenting to it. For instance, if they end up arresting you, they can search your vehicle as that vehicle is being inventoried and towed away. Again, you do not have to consent, but law enforcement has multiple different ways in which they can gain entry, lawfully, into your vehicle and search the same.
Is there any way to fight back if I am arrested after an illegal search?
If you have been searched illegally, most certainly you can fight back. You must first see what the law enforcement is alleging took place. From there, to gather evidence that would disprove law enforcement’s allegations. In other words, law enforcement has a version of what occurred, and you have a different version. Are there other independent witnesses that would corroborate your version versus law enforcement? Are there other photographic evidence, or video evidence, or surveillance videos that would, again, corroborate your version versus law enforcement’s version?
Once you’ve gathered all the evidence, you most certainly can file an evidentiary motion before the court saying that this search and the ultimate seizure of those drugs was illegal, and it should not be able to be used against me. If the trial court agrees, then that evidence is thrown out and can never be used against you in a court of law.