The Law Office of William B. Bennett, P.A., St. Petersburg, FL, Can Police Detain Me

Can Police Detain Me Legally In Florida?

It is not uncommon for Florida law enforcement to search individuals based on a reasonable suspicion. If you have been taken in custody by police without any charges, you are probably asking yourself “Can police detain me legally without a warrant?” In the law enforcement world, this is known as a “Terry Stop”. We will discuss what this is and how it might happen to you.

Can Police Detain Me Based On Reasonable Suspicion?

Reasonable suspicion is a term used by law enforcement that refer’s to a police officer’s suspicion that an individual had committed a crime, was in the process of committing a crime or had already committed a crime. In the instance where an officer suspects that a crime was about to occur or had already been committed, an officer may briefly detain an individual and pat them down for weapons or contraband.

A Terry Stop refers to the 1968 supreme court case of Terry vs. Ohio. In that case, the courts ruled that it was legal for officers to pat down an individual in order to make sure they were unarmed. The ruling determined that officers may only pat down areas where someone could hide a weapon. While the search is limited, should an officer discover a weapon or contraband, the materials will be seized and the individual could be charged for a crime.

Terry Vs. Ohio

The case of Terry vs. Ohio involved a plain clothes officer who watched two men. He believed the two individuals were casing a store in order to commit a robbery. After watching the two men, the officer approached and identified himself. Additionally, he asked for the two men’s names. During the proceeding, the officer patted them men down. Eventually, he discovered a gun in the pocket of one man. The men appealed their case suggesting that their fourth amendment rights were violated. The court found that such a search was acceptable. However, only in situations where an officer had more than a “hunch” that a crime was about to be committed. Also, the court determined that a set of criteria outlining a potential crime needed to be present before an officer was allowed to make a search.

What Does Reasonable Suspicion Mean To Me?

Reasonable suspicion is enough for officers to detain you, even though there may not actually be reasonable suspicion. That being said, officers are allowed to ask you questions. However, you do not have to stay and answer those questions. Any interaction with an officer at this stage is completely voluntary. Instead of asking whether “can police detain me”, try asking the officer if you are free to leave. If they state you are NOT allowed to leave, let them know you are exercising your right to remain silent until you have a chance to speak to a criminal defense attorney.

Ask The Criminal Defense Team At William B. Bennett Law About Your Case And Can Police Detain Me Without A Warrant

If you have been arrested after a Terry Stop, an experienced criminal defense lawyer can help determine if the stop and corresponding search was legally executed or not. If it is ruled that a stop was not legal, then any evidence uncovered during that stop may be prohibited from being used against you. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you navigate the legal system. Together, you can develop a strategy that can possibly reduce any charges you may be facing. Call The Law Office Of William B. Bennett today at (727) 821-8000 or contact us on our website here for a free consultation.

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Posted in: Criminal Defense Law, General Legal Processes