When law enforcement is going after a suspect, aggressive arresting procedures can be terrifying. Even if the police have targeted you before, you never know when an officer will pull out a weapon or decide to tase you for not cooperating.
Even after the arrest, things can get difficult once you are in custody and they are questioning you. For residents of West Palm Beach, knowing your rights is very important, but having strong legal support will help you to fight the charges and avoid harsh penalties if there is a conviction.
What legal rights do I have?
In the heat of the moment, it is easy to forget that everyone has basic rights under the Constitution that should protect them from the heavy hand of law enforcement. Some of these rights include:
- The right to an attorney.
- The right to remain silent during interrogation.
- Protection from unreasonable search or seizure.
- The due process right to fair and equal treatment and protection from prolonged detainment.
- The right to fair and consistent punishment that is not cruel or unusual.
What should I do if they arrest me?
When the police arrest you, it can help to have a strategy for handling the situation that may benefit you later, especially if an officer is violating your rights. Of course, knowing your rights can alert you to unlawful actions by law enforcement. Some basic information to remember about your rights include:
- The right to legal counsel. Even if the individual plans to plead guilty, having an attorney present is their right, and it can also protect them against receiving an overly harsh sentence.
- The right to remain silent. Suspects have a right to not answer questions without having an attorney present during interrogation.
- The right to refuse sobriety and breath tests. Although a suspect can refuse such tests, they may lose their driving privileges under Florida implied consent laws.
- The protection against search and seizure. In most cases, officers do not have a right to search an individual’s property without their consent, and a violation of this right can invalidate incriminating evidence at trial.
- The right to fair and equal treatment. Even though the laws are clear about penalties for specific crimes such as DUI’s, felonies and misdemeanors, an attorney can negotiate for reduced or alternative sentencing that could eliminate some penalties or replace them with community service or rehabilitative programs.