Recently, a man was arrested in Jacksonville for a burglary after being stopped by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office for not having a light on his bicycle. The Florida Times Union reported that Joshua Emmanuel Jones was arrested after being stopped on his bike at night. Police searched the bag that was on him and found items that had been reported stolen from a woman’s apartment a few days ago.
This type of “traffic” stop is common for Jacksonville police, but only in certain areas of town. When someone in Jacksonville rides a bike without a light on after dark, that is a civil traffic infraction. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office can pull you over for not having the light. Once the officer stops you, he or she is supposed to write you a citation and be on their way. Unfortunately, most officers don’t stop there. As a Jacksonville Criminal Attorney, I have read many arrest and booking reports where the arrest began with this kind of stop. Many of these reports claim that the person who was stopped consented to a search of their person or their bags. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense clients often tell us they never consented to any type of search, the officer just did it. If JSO finds drugs or a gun, they have the basis for an arrest for all kinds of crimes, such as possession of a controlled substance or carrying a concealed firearm.
Many people in Jacksonville ride their bicycles at the beaches, but few are cited for riding without a light. The great majority of people who are cited for this are in the Northside and Downtown areas. If JSO wants to protect the safety of bike riders by enforcing law making them have a light on their bikes, they should cite people around the city, not just in places they think they can eventually make more arrests.