You must protect your rights when facing drug charges. One of the best ways to do this is to know what you could encounter in an investigation. Understanding how Florida police will investigate your case can give you the advantage.
Not every investigation is the same. They often vary with different charges and details. However, there are some essential steps to the investigation process that remain the same.
1. Gathering evidence
This first step is usually the most important for both the police and the prosecutors. Police must have evidence and proof beyond reasonable doubt to make an arrest. They will generally look for evidence such as:
- Controlled substances
- Drug paraphernalia
- Social media posts showing drug use
- Witness statements
The type of evidence varies depending on the drug charge. For example, police might also look for substantial amounts of cash if they suspect drug manufacturing or distribution.
2. The search and seizure
The process of search and seizure is technically under the category of gathering evidence. However, it is important to discuss this step separately because police must follow specific procedures during this process. They must:
- Have probable cause to search a person or property
- Legally obtain a warrant
- Respect people and property during the search
If they do not follow these procedures, the search was illegal. And any evidence collected in the search is inadmissible.
The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution protects your rights during a police search. It is essential to put those rights to good use, so police do not violate your rights.
3. An arrest
If police gather enough evidence through witness statements or a legal search, then they may have grounds to make an arrest. However, police must also follow strict procedures during an arrest. It is critical that they:
- Inform you of your Fifth Amendment rights
- Accurately file reports of the arrest
- Promptly process you into the system
The police might not be able to hold you if they neglected proper procedures.
Remember, an arrest does not equal a conviction. You can better fight these charges and protect yourself if you know your rights and understand the investigation process.