GENERAL FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What are my rights before I am arrested?
You have the right not to incriminate yourself, which is also known as the right to remain silent.
You have the right to be free of "unreasonable search and seizure," though there are various regulations and exceptions that accompany that right.
You have the right to an attorney. However, that your right to an attorney does not necessarily apply to your decision as to whether to take or refuse a Breathalyzer or blood alcohol test.
You also have the right to be advised by police about these rights, commonly called Miranda Rights.
When can the police conduct a search of my property?
There are rules and regulations that surround police searches. The police can search your home, property, car, or financial records if they have probable cause to believe that they'll find evidence of a crime, and therefore receive a search warrant issued by a judge.
But in some situations, the police can also conduct a search without a warrant. If, for example, a potential piece of evidence is sitting out in the open, where there is "no reasonable expectation of privacy" then the police aren't required to have a search warrant to conduct a search. They also don't need a warrant if you voluntarily agree to a search. Many people have let the police search because they did not know they had the right to refuse. The police are experts at making people consent when they need to be.
When do the police have to read me my rights?
If you are a suspect, the police are required to read you your Miranda rights before conducting a custodial interrogation. What exactly constitutes "custodial interrogation" has been the subject of many court cases, and is more complicated than you might expect. Clearly, not all discussion between the police and a suspect is "interrogation." Some discussions are different than interrogation, like an officer asking a suspect if he wants something to drink, for example. The police do not need to read a suspect his or her rights at this point. However, in some circumstances a police officer may be found to have interrogated a suspect in custody even without asking direct questions.
Once a custodial interrogation begins, the police must read the suspects his or her rights and ensure that they are understood.
What happens if the police don't read me my rights?
Many people think that if the police do not read them their rights, the charges are dismissed. This is usually not the case. Instead, if a suspect is interrogated in custody without being read his rights, then any statements he or she makes may be excluded as evidence.
Additionally, any evidence that would not have been discovered without that original statement may not be admissible as evidence either. Sometimes this lack of usable evidence can lead to dismissed charges, but there is no automatic dismissal if a suspect's rights are not read.
What is the right to a speedy trial?
The 6th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees that "in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury..." But there is not a specific Constitutional guideline to determine what exactly constitutes a speedy trial. Some jurisdictions have established set time periods within which a criminal case must pass through the system. Our Miami, Broward, and Palm Beach county criminal defense attorneys can discuss the time limits that apply to your case.
When do I have the right to a trial by jury?
Any crime that may be punished by imprisonment for more than six months automatically triggers the right to a trial by jury, no matter what the offense is. While there is not a universal definition of the term, those crimes determined to be "petty offenses" do not necessarily warrant a trial by jury. The number of people on the jury can vary also, depending on the state and the seriousness of your crime. Our Miami, Broward, and Palm Beach county criminal defense attorneys can discuss the time limits that apply to your case.