Hire a Criminal Lawyer in Port St. Lucie
If you have ever been stopped or pulled over by a police officer, you are familiar with the anxiety that comes from not knowing what’s going to happen next. However when a simple stop escalates to an arrest, anxiety gives way to full blown terror. Law enforcement officers are well aware how terrifying this experience can be to the average citizen and often use our fear to gain an advantage.
Having a basic understanding of the legal process can help create a level playing field. Read on for some practical information you should be aware of if you’re ever arrested and in need of a criminal defense lawyer.
What should I do if I’m arrested?
Most of us have a natural tendency to think that we can talk ourselves out of a bad situation. Unfortunately, once a police officer has made the decision to put you in handcuffs, a patrol car, or a jail cell there is nothing that you can say that will change his or her mind about taking you into custody.
Stay calm and do not resist. It is important that you remain in control of your words, body language and emotions. Resisting an officer can be the basis of a separate criminal charge in Florida. An action as simple as "squirming around" while an officer applies handcuffs has been the basis of arrests for resisting in Port St. Lucie. Take a deep breath and be as polite and respectful as possible, even if you are completely innocent.
Be patient and remember that you’ll have your day in court. Even though you might feel frightened and persecuted in the moment, your arrest is just the first step in the legal process. Contact a criminal attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can explain the next steps in your case such as arraignment, docket soundings, pre-trial motions and trial. Together you can discuss your options and come up with a plan that best meets the goals that are important to you.
What should I do if an officer wants me to answer questions in relation to a crime without placing me under arrest?
In order to make an arrest, a police officer must have probable cause to believe that a certain individual has committed a crime. Probable cause is not a very high standard, but officers are still required to complete an investigation before they place someone in custody. One tool that officers commonly use during the course of their investigation is called a "consensual encounter." This is when a law enforcement officer, often a Detective, simply asks you if you’d be willing to talk to them about a particular matter. If you are asked by a police officer if you’d be willing to answer questions, here is what you should keep in mind:
You have the right to say "no." Most people have a hard time saying "no" to police officers. We are taught from an early age to respect and obey law enforcement. We are also naturally inclined to think that we can help our cause by being honest and explaining ourselves. Detectives know this, and prey upon these inclinations. Set your instinct to be forthcoming aside to avoid saying anything that could be construed as an admission of guilt. What should I do if the police want me to provide information against other people?
It’s more common than you might think for someone who has just been placed in handcuffs in Port St. Lucie to hear "maybe there’s something you can do to help yourself out," right before being placed in the back of a patrol car. Before long, you’re providing incriminating information against your friends and family members all the while thinking, "If I just tell them what they want to hear, they’ll let me go." The sad truth is that 9 times out of 10, you end up in jail anyway. On top of that, the people you named will likely be investigated and arrested which may create a host of additional problems for both you and them. Here’s what you need to remember if you ever find yourself in this situation.
The police don’t have as much power as you think. Sure, the arresting officer will decide the charges on which you are booked. However, the decision as to your official charge is made weeks later by a lawyer at the prosecutor’s office. More importantly, only the prosecutor or judge will decide what sentence is appropriate in your case - not the arresting officer. Police officers will go to great lengths to convince you otherwise, but it’s just not true.
If you or a loved one is arrested in Port Saint Lucie, you may need to hire a criminal lawyer. The attorneys at Ohle & Ohle, P.A. are available 24/7 for a free consultation.