How to use your right to remain silent in Florida
"Miranda rights" are often depicted in movies and shows, but the actors don't always provide an accurate look at the law.
Your Miranda rights protect your freedom during an arrest. Supported by Constitutional Amendments, they give you the right to remain silent and the right to legal counsel. Therefore, it is critical for people being arrested or facing federal or Florida criminal charges to understand how Miranda works and when the laws apply.
As a Lakeland criminal defense attorney, I want to clear up Miranda misconceptions. The following is a Miranda rights FAQ for Florida. If you were arrested and suspect your Miranda rights were violated, contact Thomas C. Grajek, Attorney at Law, for a free case consultation. I can analyze the details of your situation and help weigh your legal defense options.
Florida Miranda rights FAQ
What are my Miranda rights?
Miranda rights were established in the 1960s to push back against coercive police interrogation techniques. Supported by the 5th and 6th Constitutional Amendments, Miranda protects you from self-incrimination. When suspects are arrested, police must give them a "Miranda warning." The language differs among officers and departments, but a general Miranda warning goes like this:
- You have the right to remain silent.
- Anything you say can and will be used against you in court.
- You have the right to have an attorney.
- If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you.
The officer may also ask you if you understand these rights. Remember: Miranda gives you the right to have a criminal defense lawyer by your side during police interrogations.
Why are Miranda rights necessary?
By informing a suspect of their rights, the reasoning goes, there is less risk of coercion. Therefore, admissions of guilt and other self-incriminating statements gathered through coercion or police intimidation are not admissible in court.
What if Florida police didn't read me my Miranda rights?
It can be challenging to get statements thrown out based on a suspect's Miranda rights, but not impossible. If the police skipped your Miranda warning, you may have a strong case for dismissal of charges or having "evidence" declared inadmissible. However, you will almost always need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney to win this argument.
When do Miranda rights apply?
Police must read you your Miranda rights when you are in custody and subject to interrogation. Typically, "in custody" means a person reasonably believes they cannot exit a police interaction. Therefore, you are certainly in custody if you are being arrested. Other times, however, custody is not so clear. In general, four factors determine whether you are in police custody:
- How the officer summoned the suspect for questioning.
- The purpose, place, and manner of questioning.
- The degree to which the suspect is presented with evidence of their alleged guilt.
- Whether the suspect is informed that they are free to leave.
Custody is often a gray area of the law. An experienced criminal defense lawyer knows how to identify and collect evidence of coercion.
Do I have to identify myself to Florida police officers?
It depends on the situation. While Florida does have a "stop and frisk" law, an officer cannot stop you for no good reason and demand you identify yourself. If a police officer "reasonably" believes you are a criminal suspect or have committed a traffic violation, you must identify yourself. If you do not have identity documents on you, you may choose to remain silent.
Two things worth noting:
- You do not have to identify yourself or show papers to an ICE officer for any reason.
- Providing a fake name or false identification documents to law enforcement is a serious crime in Florida.
Can my silence be used against me?
Yes. Sometimes. After you have been given your Miranda rights, your silence cannot be used against you. However, before your Miranda warning, your silence in response to police questioning could be used against you as "evidence" of alleged guilt. Protecting yourself and your Constitutional right against making self-incriminating statements is simple if you know how. When being questioned by police, you can remain silent without this silence being held against you if you verbally assert your rights by saying something like this to the police:
- "I am asserting my 5th Amendment right to stay silent, and I want to speak with a lawyer."
Get the focused attention your case deserves
Do you suspect your Miranda rights were violated in Polk County? Were you charged with a DUI in Lakeland or a drug offense in Tampa? You should review your potential legal options with an experienced criminal defense attorney. At no cost to you, I can answer questions related to your charges, explain penalties, and help weigh your legal defense options.
Don't gamble with your freedom on an overburdened public defense attorney. I handle all cases at my firm personally. I have built a strong reputation for aggressively protecting the rights and freedom of my clients. I am available to hear from you, day or night. Contact me for a free case consultation to find out how I can help you.