Encounters With the Police, the Definition of Police Custody, and When the Police Must Read You Your ‘Miranda’ Rights in Florida

Comedian Ron White once described an interaction with police outside a bar thusly: “I had the right to remain silent… but I didn’t have the ability.” The reality is that “adult beverages” have made a lot of people say things they later wished they hadn’t. If something you or a loved one drunkenly said could potentially be harmful in a criminal case, you need every resource you can get to try to exclude those statements from your trial. Make sure that the main resource you secure is the services of a skilled Tampa Bay criminal defense lawyer.

Last spring was apparently a prolific time for these kinds of scenarios here in the Sunshine State. Back in April, police encountered a 28-year-old woman outside a bar in St. Petersburg allegedly drunk and offering lap dances to passersby. The police said the woman first asked them if they were going to “bang her” and, later, asked if they were going to shoot her.

In May, Ocala police responded to a report of a woman in a bikini trespassing at a motel pool. The Dunnellon woman was “verbally aggressive,” and told police that the hotel manager reported her solely because the female manager was “jealous that her body looked good.”

Strange Things are Afoot at the Circle K

In June, Lake County Sheriff’s allegedly encountered a 21-year-old woman in a Umatilla Circle K naked from the waist down. A deputy stopped her and asked her why she was bottomless. According to a deputy, the woman stated, in a slurred response, that another deputy said “it was fine to do that.”

In December, the location was The Villages and the suspect was a 63-year-old woman who had allegedly crashed a golf cart into a curb. According to police, the suspect cursed President Biden and told officers that she was not vaccinated.

All four women were ultimately charged with disorderly intoxication.

When the Police Must Notify You of Your Rights

An attorney for the fourth woman indicated to villages-news.com that the defense would seek to have the woman’s statements to deputies suppressed because “she had not been read a Miranda Warning before the statements were made.”

As you may know, police officers are required to notify you of your constitutional rights (a/k/a “Mirandize” you) before they begin interrogating you. However, the state can use the statements you make in some circumstances, even without having issued Miranda warnings. Before the police have to Mirandize you, you must first be in police “custody” and their questions must qualify as “interrogation.”

Back in 2020, the Second District Court of Appeal shed additional light on what “custody” and “interrogation” mean. First, the court explained that interrogation takes place “when a state agent [like a police officer] asks questions or engages in actions that a reasonable person would conclude are intended to lead to an incriminating response.” Custody happens when, given the totality of the circumstances surrounding the interrogation, a “reasonable person” would have felt that “he or she was not at liberty to terminate the interrogation and leave.”

If you have those things and you have an absence of a Miranda warning, you may have the elements you need to get your statement excluded.

When you need to seek suppression of comments you made to the police as part of your criminal case, you need an experienced advocate. Count on the knowledgeable Tampa Bay criminal defense attorneys at Blake & Dorsten P.A. to provide you with the strongest possible defense available under the law. Call us today at (727) 286-6141 to schedule your FREE initial consultation and find out how we can help you.

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