When Can a Police Officer Detain You?

When a police officer has sufficient reason to suspect that you may have been involved, or soon will be involved, with a criminal activity, he can detain you for questioning. Although this might involve being placed in handcuffs in some cases, being detained is not being arrested. Detainment is temporary and all questioning must be concluded within an acceptable timeframe, whereas being arrested means you are to be taken into custody and can’t leave.

At best, sufficient reason to suspect criminal activity is a vague expression. As shown in a case recently taken to the District Court of Appeal of Florida ( Mike Naim Musallam v. State of Florda), a police officer can’t act on just a “hunch” or a “gut feeling.” When the appellant was detained because the police officer thought he saw a bulge in his pocket that wasn’t there before and would be searched, he willingly disclosed that he did had an illegally hidden firearm on his person. But, other than that, he wasn’t breaking any crimes and was giving full cooperation to the officer. In short, he hadn’t acted in a way that would suggest any sort of criminal activity whatsoever.

When the case went to the court of appeals, the appellant’s convictions were reversed on the grounds that a hunch is not enough. In order for a detainment to happen, you have to essentially be a suspect for a recent crime. This also means that if a police officer approaches you out of the blue and asks you to stop for questioning, you can’t be stopped for an unreasonable amount of time, and there should be ample reason to want to question you.

Protect Your Rights from Unwarranted Detainment!

If you have been detained without proper reasoning and an arrest or conviction occurred because of it, you don’t have to sit quietly and let the justice system exploit your freedoms. Our experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Jason K.S. Porter, P.A. have 90+ years of combined experience practicing law and fighting for the accused. Call us toll-free at 904.701.0591 to schedule a free case evaluation.

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