How Illegal Officer Behavior Impacts a Florida Criminal Case

According to the Miami New Times, Florida police officers are capable of flouting the law and engaging in illegal behavior, all while being able to continue working. Much of this analysis hinges on the fact that Florida has an “Officers’ Bill of Rights” statue, which some believe skews heavily in favor of law enforcement. As a result, misbehaving officers have the ability to hedge on following the rules while getting away with it.

The Miami New Times found in its two-month review of state, county, and local records that at least 17 officers have had four or more complaints filed against them with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Yet, these officers continue to operate and patrol Florida streets. In the worst cases, when an outright dismissal of a police officer is warranted, it costs the Florida taxpayer plenty of money to dismiss the officer.

Statistics of this sort should serve as a reminder that officers can and do engage in illegal behavior. If an officer engaged in illegal or irresponsible behavior during your arrest, it may have an impact on the outcome of your Florida criminal case.

Law Enforcement Mistakes That Affects Criminal Defense Proceedings

In your criminal defense case, your best legal defense may well be the very conduct of the officers who arrested you. For starters, one of the biggest mistakes a police officer can make is violating your constitutional rights. Whether you were involved in a drunk driving stop or were subjected to a search for drugs or weapons, courts do not look kindly upon officers that fail to follow proper constitutional procedures. If a constitutional violation occurs, evidence obtained in those unlawful searches can be thrown out in a criminal case.

If, for example, you are stopped when an officer did not have “reasonable suspicion” that you committed a crime, any evidence collected from said stop may be thrown out. This reasoning comes from the landmark case of Terry v. Ohio, which stated that police officers may stop a person on the street only if they have reason to believe that a person:

  • Has committed a crime
  • Is committing a crime or is about to commit a crime
  • Is armed and dangerous

Additionally, if a stop lasts longer than necessary to make a determination as to the suspect’s involvement in criminal activity, then evidence collected from such a stop may be challenged as well.

Similar constitutional issues include conducting a search without probable cause and failing to read you your Miranda rights (rights so named based on the landmark case of Miranda v. Arizona).

If your constitutional rights have been violated, you need a Florida criminal defense lawyer who will file a motion to suppress. This motion, if successful, will have evidence thrown out if it was unlawfully obtained. John F. Greene is a Florida criminal defense lawyer who defends the rights of his clients when law enforcement oversteps their legal authority and/or fails to honor a defendant’s constitutional rights.

From his Destin office, John F. Greene represents criminal defendants in Destin and defendants throughout the Emerald Coast and Northwest Florida, which includes Santa Rosa, Walton, Bay and Okaloosa Counties. He also represents defendants who are charged with committing a crime in the Destin, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Panama City and Santa Rosa Beach communities.

If you need a Florida criminal defense attorney who will point out procedural police mistakes and have unlawfully obtained evidence thrown out in your case, contact attorney John F. Greene or call 850-424-6833.


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