Your Rights During & After Arrest
Roughly 90 percent of the world’s jury trials occur in the United States. That one statistic says volumes about the rights of criminal defendants in America. But a jury trial is meaningless without substantial protections during the pretrial process. Otherwise, the deck is hopelessly stacked against the defendant. These protections begin before defendants see flashing lights in their rearview mirrors and continue throughout the criminal law process.
The dedicated Orlando criminal defense lawyers at the O’Mara Law Group understand that our job goes beyond representing individual defendants. Every time we stand up for your rights, we are protecting your family and friends from police overreach and overzealous prosecutors. This is a responsibility we take very seriously, and that’s why we work so hard to prepare your defense.
Pre-Stop Rights in Orlando Criminal Cases
Typically, police officers must have reasonable suspicion before they pull over motorists or detain individuals on the street. Courts have watered down the “reasonable suspicion” doctrine as of late, but the rule remains in place. Generally, officers must have specific, articulable facts before they detain individuals.
Phantom “furtive movements” are a good example. Most of us get very nervous when we see police officers nearby, so we turn our necks suddenly to look in the rearview mirror or take a long look at the speedometer. Sudden movements like these do not constitute reasonable suspicion. Instead, the officer needs something objective, like a traffic violation or an informer’s reliable tip.
DUI checkpoints are the major exception to the reasonable suspicion rule. In certain situations, police may pull over motorists according to a neutral formula, whether or not they have any reasonable suspicions.
What Are My Rights After The Police Stop Me?
At traffic stops, motorists must present certain documents, usually a drivers’ license and proof of insurance. Moreover, all detainees must answer basic name, rank, and serial number questions. Finally, everyone must follow basic police commands, such as “step out of the car” or “pull into the inspection area.”
Other than that, detainees do not have to say or do anything. At the aforementioned checkpoints, motorists do not even need to roll down their windows. It’s usually a good idea to politely but firmly refuse to answer questions. If police officers feel threatened or abused, the situation can end very, very badly. If officers ask more than three or four questions, it’s usually best to ask if you are under arrest or if you are free to leave. Otherwise, courts may consider your detention voluntary, and your rights will be limited.
If officers arrest you, they are not legally required to tell you or anyone else the charges at that time.
On a related note, some people ask if they can film police officers on their phones as they carry out their official duties. The smart money says yes, but the Supreme Court has yet to rule on this question. If officers demand that you turn off the camera or step back, it’s best to do so in order to avoid a confrontation.
What Happens After I’m Arrested?
Once custodial interrogation begins, your Fifth Amendment rights also begin. These rights include the right to remain silent and refuse to answer any questions or say anything. Accused persons are also entitled to criminal defense attorneys at this stage.
You also have the right to reasonable bail. Pretrial release is an important component of a successful criminal defense. If the initial bail amount is too high, an attorney may be able to get the amount reduced at a subsequent hearing.
Contact Assertive Attorneys
You have important legal rights beginning at the point of first contact between you and the officer. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Orlando, contact the O’Mara Law Group. Convenient payment plans are available.