As a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney, I constantly review arrests in Duval, Clay and Nassau Counties. When evaluating any criminal case, I first look at when the police officer initially makes contact with my client, also referred to as “police-citizen encounters”. In Florida, there are three levels of these encounters. The first is called a consensual encounter, where you can wither voluntarily comply with the officer’s requests or ignore them. Because you are free to leave during a consensual encounter, your constitutional rights are not in play. The second level of police contact is called an investigatory stop. In order to detain you, the officer has to have a well-founded suspicion that you are involved in criminal activity. To determine whether you are detained, the courts apply the standard of whether a reasonable person would feel free to leave even though a police officer is talking to them. Factors to consider are: did the officer activate his squad car lights, where did the officer park when approaching you, what words did the officer say when making contact with you, how many officers approached you, were their guns drawn or were the officers touching their weapons, if at night, did the officer shine a light on you. This evaluation is very important because if an officer does not follow the law, anything he or she found on you could be suppressed because your constitutional rights were violated. The third level of police encounters is when you are actually arrested. In order to be arrested in Jacksonville or anywhere in Florida, the police must have probable cause to believe you committed or are committing a crime.
If you are facing criminal charges in Northeast Florida, it is important to discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your future is worth it. Our Jacksonville Criminal Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem has represented thousands of people charged with crimes in Jacksonville, Clay County, Nassau County and St.Johns County. Contact The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Jacksonville Law Firm is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.