Archive of July 2013

July 28, 2013

Can a law enforcement officer detain you without arresting you?

Yes, with limitations. Under Florida law, based upon reasonable suspicion that you may be involved in criminal activity, a police officer may require you to identify yourself and explain your presence at a particular time, without arresting you. Under Florida law the officer may not remove you from the immediate vicinity without making an arrest, unless you voluntarily accompany the officer to some other location. If the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that you are armed, he or she may conduct a limited pat-down of your outer garments for the purpose of detecting weapons. If this "frisk" results in reasonable belief on the part of the officer that you are carrying a weapon, the officer may remove the suspicious object for protection. While the reason for the “frisk” may be for any suspected weapons, if the officer feels or sees any suspected contraband (drugs), he/she will take those and may then have probable cause for arrest for any illegal items that may find. The officer may ask you some questions in order to complete the field interrogation. You have a constitutional right to not answer them, or give your name, unless the officer has an reasonable suspicion that you are involved in a crime. At the conclusion of this temporary detention the officer must either arrest you or let you go. Beware that if you do not provide your name upon request, this may be used to heighten any reasonable suspicion they may have any potentially give them grounds for further investigation. If you should enter a retail establishment where goods are placed on display and for sale, the merchant or the employees may detain you on the premises for a reasonable time for questioning if they have probable cause to believe that you have stolen or have attempted to steal goods for sale. Under such circumstances a police officer called to the scene may make an arrest for shoplifting even though the alleged offense was not committed in the officer's presence. An officer may make an arrest without a warrant even if he/she was not present at the time of the alleged offense, if he/she is able to establish probable cause for an arrest based on corroborating evidence of a crime and witness statements.

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