Were you arrested based on an anonymous tip? If so, your stop by the officers may have been unlawful and you may be able to get your case dropped.
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and its Florida analog establish the “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures” absent a warrant or a judicially-recognized exception. A police officer therefore may temporarily detain you only if he has a reasonable suspicion you have committed, are committing, or are about to commit a crime. To avoid a Fourth Amendment violation, an investigatory stop requires a well-founded, articulable suspicion of criminal activity. A hunch or mere suspicion that you’re engaging in criminal activity is insufficient to support a stop.
Reasonable suspicion, in turn, depends on both the content of information possessed by police and its reliability. Both factors—quantity and quality—are considered in the totality of the circumstances—the whole picture to be considered when evaluating whether there is reasonable suspicion.
Assessing the constitutionality of an investigatory stop requires two-steps. First, the facts leading up to the search must be identified. Secondly, it must be determined whether those facts, viewed from the standpoint of an objectively reasonable police officer, amount to reasonable suspicion of criminal activity to justify a stop. Reasonableness is measured in objective terms by examining the totality of the circumstances. The subjective intentions of the officers is irrelevant.
If you were stopped based on an anonymous tip, the critical issue is whether the limited information the officers were provided, along with your conduct, meets the constitutional standard for an investigatory detention. In other words, the key question is whether the detaining officers had a well-founded and reasonable suspicion that you had committed or were about to commit a crime sufficient to justify your immediate detention. Continue reading