Sometimes, it is difficult to tell what is really going on when you are stopped by police in Mississippi. Officers may order you to halt before failing to communicate with you, leaving you feeling confused and anxious. Perhaps they ask you to sit in your vehicle for a considerable period of time while they run your license plate or check your identification. You might even think that they are stopping you for no real reason other than to frustrate you. Whatever the case may be, it is important to understand the difference between detention and arrest.
If you believe that you have been wrongfully arrested or detained in Mississippi, it makes sense to get in touch with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. If you are able, keep your communication with officers to a minimum and exercise your right to remain silent if necessary. While it can be frustrating to be detained without reason, do not let your emotions get the better of you. Remember that you will have the chance to speak with your attorney at some point, and that negligent officers can and will be held accountable for their misconduct.
What Does it Mean to be Detained?
A detention is not the same as an arrest. When an officer detains an individual, they are not responding to any particular violation or crime. Officers in Mississippi have the right to detain individuals for a “brief and cursory” holding. The classic example is a police officer who stops someone who is acting suspiciously and asks them a few questions. While the suspect is being interrogated, they are technically not free to leave. However, they are also not under arrest. This “grey area” poses a number of potential issues.
The definition of “brief and cursory” is also quite vague. When detaining individuals, police officers can only keep them in place for as long as absolutely necessary. They must also be as unintrusive as possible. If the detainment continues for an unreasonable amount of time, the courts may assume that there has been a “de-facto” arrest.
How to Clarify the Situation
You are free to ask police officers whether you are being detained. You might also want to ask an officer whether you are free to leave, or whether you are being charged with a crime. If the officer tells you that you are not being detained and that you are not being charged with a crime, then you are technically free to leave. There is nothing that the officer can do to legally stop your movement.
Enlist the Help of a Qualified Attorney
If you have been searching the Mississippi area for a qualified, experienced criminal defense attorney, look no further than Vic Carmody Jr., P.A. Over the years, we have helped countless defendants who have been wrongfully arrested or detained. While police officers are tasked with upholding law and order, this does not give them the right to arbitrarily detain law-abiding citizens without valid reasons. Book your consultation today, and we can help you hold negligent police officers accountable and fight for your rights.