Arrested at Electric Daisy Carnival: Know that you have rights
Orlando is home to many attractions and events. This past weekend thousands of people converged on Orlando to attend the 2013 Electric Daisy Carnival. Unfortunately, at events such as this ordinary people are sometimes subjected to overreaching conduct on the part of law enforcement and security personal. Some of those encounters will inevitably result in arrests. Of those encounters that do result in arrests, many could be avoided by vocally asserting your constitutional rights in a respectful manner.
The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures. A common example of a seizure is a police officer stopping, or detaining, someone for the purpose of a search. In order for a police officer to seize someone that police officer must have a well founded suspicion of criminal activity. A mere hunch is not enough to detain someone. If a police officer develops well founded suspicion that someone may be carrying a weapon, then that officer may conduct a limited search of the outside of the clothing. Such a search is commonly known as a “pat-down”. In order for the police officer to remove anything from yourself or your clothing during a pat-down, that item must be immediately recognizable by the officer as either a weapon or illegal contraband, such as drugs. Common items such as cigarette packs and cigar tubes are commonly removed from people and searched illegally by officers. There is nothing about the shape or feel of a cigarette pack or cigar tube in someone’s pocket that would allow an officer to immediately believe that there must be illegal contraband inside of them. It is important in such circumstances to assert your Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches, while maintaining a respectful tone with the officer. When asserting such a right it is important to be very clear. The more clear and assertive you are the better chance that the officer will refrain from any illegal search. If the officer persists in the search it is important not to resist him in any way, as that could lead to additional criminal charges being filed against you. The proper place to fight against an improper search by police is in the courtroom.
Other very important constitutional rights are the right to remain silent, and the right to speak with an attorney prior to, and during, questioning. Those rights are given to us by the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the United States Constitution. If an officer has already searched you or detained you it is important to remember that you do not have to answer any of the officer’s questions. Even if you want to speak with the officer, it is always best to speak with a lawyer before doing so. Everyone has the right to speak with an attorney both before and during any police questioning. Once again, it is important to assert these rights both clearly and vocally.
Asserting your rights under the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments is the best defense that ordinary people have against unreasonable and illegal police conduct. If you are attending an event, for example the Electric Daisy Carnival, police officers and security guards may talk to you and ask your consent to be searched prior to entering the event. While the officer may properly ask you for consent to search, you have every right to deny the officer consent. You will probably not be allowed into the event, but you have every right to turn around and walk away from that officer. If an officer tries to stop you from walking away then follow his commands and do not try to resist because you could end up being arrested for additional charges.