Being stopped by a law enforcement officer can be a very unnerving experience, even if you have no concern of having violated the law. Recent news reports have demonstrated that interactions with law enforcement officers can sometimes, and often unnecessarily, escalate resulting in serious legal charges, confrontations, arrest and sometimes more serious consequences.

Frequently these escalations can be avoided if you know your rights under the Florida “Stop and Frisk” law and if you follow these suggestions:

Keep Your Composure

It is easy to forget that law enforcement officers are people, too, and are likely to respond in kind to how they are treated. Remain calm and respectful in your tone of voice and mannerisms. This will give the officer confidence that you are not a threat.

Know your Rights

Being polite and courteous does not mean you have to roll over and do whatever the officer says. If you are on foot, you are not required to say anything to the officer and you should ask “Am I free to go?”

If the officer says no, then he or she has to show probable cause for an arrest or to detain you. Under Florida law, failure to identify oneself is one factor to be considered in being detained.

If you are in a vehicle, you must provide your identification, but you are not required to permit the officer to search the vehicle without a search warrant. The officer can only detain you as long as is reasonably necessary to write the citation unless he or she has probable cause for an arrest. If he or she can see something in plain view that provides probable cause such as weapons, illegal substances or drug paraphernalia, the officer can search the vehicle and make an arrest based on what was visible from outside the car.

Know a Lawyer – Know the Khonsari Law Group

Situations requiring experienced legal representation can arise quickly and without warning. That is no time to start looking for an attorney. If you, or someone you know, needs legal counsel, contact the Khonsari Law Group.