Being arrested is never fun. Although an arrest by itself isn’t necessarily a life-altering event, it is usually an event fraught with fear and uncertainty. However, a little knowledge may help to make being arrested in Florida a little less frightening. Here’s what you need to know if you find yourself under arrest in Florida.
Detention Versus Arrest
Under Florida law, a law enforcement officer may conduct a detention, which is not the same as an arrest. Often known as a “stop and frisk,” in a detention an officer may ask you to identify yourself and explain why you are where you are. Florida law prevents the officer from moving you to another location involuntarily, but he may conduct a “frisk,” or a brief pat-down of your outer clothing if he believes you may be carrying a weapon.
An officer may ask you questions during a stop and frisk in order to complete a field interrogation card, but under Florida law you are not required to answer those questions unless he believes you are involved in a crime. Once completed, the officer must either arrest you or release you.
Arrest Without A Warrant
There are several circumstances in Florida in which an officer may make an arrest without a warrant. The most frequent circumstances are
- when the officer knows of the existence of an arrest warrant despite not having that warrant in hand,
- when the officer has a reasonable suspicion that a felony has or is occurring and you are or did commit that felony, and
- if you commit a misdemeanor in the officer’s presence.
Officers may arrest an individual in Florida whom they suspect has committed any felony, but officers may not arrest one suspected of a misdemeanor that occurred outside of that officer’s presence except in a few cases, including
- carrying a concealed weapon that isn’t a firearm,
- shoplifting, or
- possession of up to 20 grams of cannabis.
Rights Upon Arrest
Every person has certain rights upon arrest that law enforcement may not violate without seriously jeopardizing the charges filed against you. Among them are
- The Miranda Rights (right to remain silent, right to an attorney),
- to know the crime(s) you’re charged with,
- to know the identity of the officers involved in your case,
- to communicate by telephone with attorneys, friends, family, or a bonding company after booking.
After The Arrest
Once arrested in Florida, you will be taken by the officer to the county jail for processing. Several things will happen at the jail, including
- booking photo,
- advised of the general nature of the charges against you
Officers may have you participate in a lineup with other individuals or submit writing or hair samples. You may also be asked to speak phrases that are associated with the crime of which you’re suspected.
While in jail you will be arraigned, which means brought before a judge and advised of the charges filed against you. At this point you or your attorney will submit one of three pleas to the charges:
- not guilty, or
- no contest.
Pleading not guilty will lead to the judge setting a trial date, and pleading guilty or no contest will prompt the judge to set a date for sentencing.