Monday, November 30, 2009

Tips from Criminal Attorneys: Can They Search Me?

Most US citizens are compliant with the law, to a very large degree. There are odd parking violations, speeding tickets, sometimes instances of petty vandalism or theft, and so-called victimless crimes like taking soft drugs. Many people have no idea about their rights when it comes to police interactions, apart from the fact that they have the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. Here Florida criminal attorneys help you take your rights into your own hands, possibly helping you present the facts more clearly to a jury in the case of any run-ins with the law. We're looking specifically at on-the-street search situations here.

The Basics
The overarching guideline for fairness is that police can search you and your property, and also seize your property with or without a warrant, if the circumstances justify their actions. They need to have probably cause, and stay within constitutional limitations. However, in a situation where they feel it would be your word against theirs the lines can become blurred. Your criminal attorney can help retrospectively, but you can help yourself proactively.

Tip #1: Draw attention to yourself
If police feel that there are witnesses around (especially witness that aren’t related to you), they are more likely to act fairly to begin with. Shout "Hello! Can you come over here please?" to a stranger passing by, and if you have friends around, make sure they are with you.

Tip #2: Cellphone savers
An easy way to keep a record of what is said is to call your home phone from your cell, and put your cell on loudspeaker. While police don’t necessarily have the power to stop you doing this, it would be wise not to call attention to it. Your criminal attorney may be able to use the conversation in court, if necessary.

Tip #3: Consider the implications of false denials
If you are found to have something illegal in your possession, your best bet is to remain silent, as the movies and television have taught us so well. If you deny that something is yours, it raises the question of who it belongs to - and may start trouble for your family and friends.

Tip #4: Resist verbally, not physically
If you state verbally, loudly, that you do not agree to be searched, the police cannot "accidentally" slip their hand in your pocket while doing a (legal) patdown, and find anything you would rather not have to explain. They must have probable cause to search you -- if you don’t believe they do, then object to the search so that everyone around you can hear. Never physically resist, or your criminal attorney will have much more work to do for little gain by you.

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