You may have heard that a police officer in Florida needs probable cause before they can legally pull you over. However, this is untrue as Florida police officers only need what is known as “reasonable suspicion” to perform a traffic stop. Although probable cause and reasonable suspicion are similar, there is a notable difference that distinguishes the two.
If you or someone you care about was arrested in Florida, it is crucial to seek legal counsel from an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Criminal Defense Attorney Brian Gabriel has constructed robust legal defense strategies to protect the rights of accused individuals in Florida for over 30 years.
What Is the Difference Between Probable Cause and Reasonable Suspicion in Florida?
Florida police officers must reasonably suspect a driver of committing a traffic offense or a crime in order to pull them over legally. The officer may also temporarily detain them on that suspicion and complete a limited investigation to establish whether a crime actually did occur.
However, in order for a law enforcement officer to arrest a person in Florida, they must meet the stricter burden of determining probable cause. Although probable cause is not legally defined in Florida, it is generally understood that, unlike reasonable suspicion, probable cause requires some evidence that a crime was committed. This evidence can either come from a complaint, affidavit, or deposition of a police officer.
How Reasonable Suspicion Can Affect an Arrest in Florida
If a police officer witnesses you commit any suspicious behavior while driving, they may have reasonable suspicion to pull you over. These behaviors can include, but are not limited to:
- Braking frequently without reason
- Drifting between lanes
- Driving erratically
- Driving too slowly
- Failing to stop at a stop sign
- Making an illegal u-turn
- Stopping in the middle of the road without reason
Many people who are arrested during traffic stops in Florida think their only options for defending their cases are to call into question things like breath tests or field sobriety tests.
However, your criminal defense attorney may find that questioning why you were pulled over in the first place could be your best line of defense. This is because if the police officer did not have reasonable suspicion to initiate a traffic stop, it could significantly impact the outcome of your case.
Contact a South Florida Criminal Defense Attorney Who Has Over 30 Years of Experience
Suppose you were arrested during a Florida traffic stop. In that case, Criminal Defense Attorney Brian Gabriel could conduct an in-depth evaluation to find the defense strategy that is right for your unique case. Mr. Gabriel has over 30 years of experience defending accused criminals in Florida, and he will handle your case using all the knowledge and skill developed over the span of his career.
Start with a free consultation today by calling Criminal Defense Attorney Brian Gabriel of The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel at (561) 622-5575. You can also complete an online contact form to learn more.