Police Encounters

As a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Jacksonville, I have read thousands of arrest and booking reports. Almost all of the arrests in Jacksonville stem from a police officer making contact with someone.

There are 3 levels of police encounters with the public.

The first is called a “consensual encounter”. This is supposed to involve only minimal police contact and the citizen is free to comply with an officer’s requests or to ignore them. A citizen is free to leave at any time. JSO uses these “consensual” encounters to develop reasonable suspicion to further detain a citizen. Most people think if a police officer calls out to them, they are not able to walk away. If a police officer asks you to stop on the street, ask if you are being detained. If not, you are able to walk away.

The second way police stop you is called an investigatory stop. A police officer can reasonably detain someone only if he or she has a well-founded, articulable suspicion that the person is engaged in criminal conduct. Mere suspicion is not enough to support a stop.

The third level of police encounters is an arrest. The officer has to have probable cause to believe a suspect did commit a crime.