We have all seen the Miranda warning issued on television; so much so that most of us can probably recite all or most of it by rote. Some people, however, may not know that there is a difference between the Miranda warning and the Fifth Amendment. The Fifth Amendment provides constitutional protection from self-incrimination which is where the “right to remain silent” stems from. Miranda is, in fact, an extension of that amendment which ensures that anyone who is being interrogated by the police is made aware of their constitutional rights and the right to legal counsel. These are both fundamental to our judicial system.
HE NEVER READ ME MY RIGHTS!
Unfortunately, under current Florida law, a police officer doesn’t have to inform you of your right to remain silent when he is issuing a traffic ticket nor are you told of this when you appear for a hearing in traffic court. You only are informed of these rights when you are arrested for a criminal matter AND actually questioned (interogated) by the police. Problems can arise if you go to a hearing in traffic court and make statements that indicate you were somehow involved in criminal activity. This creates a quandary for Florida lawmakers especially since there is an absence of consistency across the state in how counties handle this issue, and many counties don’t address the issue at all.
One such example is if you get a traffic ticket in Broward County, judges won’t even hold a hearing until it has been determined if there will be any criminal charges pressed. This is because traffic tickets are a civil, not criminal, matter. In a civil matter, you can be compelled to testify even if what you say may be used against you. This can be a huge issue because whatever you say can be used in not only any crime you may have committed that is related to your traffic citation, but also in any other criminal charges that you may be facing or face in the future. Fortunately, when it comes to a criminal matter, you can only be compelled to speak if you are first offered immunity from the crime.
The government has concluded that there is no reason to change the law pertaining to the Fifth Amendment as it applies to traffic court. They do, however, suggest that other traffic courts in Florida look into implementing practices like those for people who appear in traffic court in Broward County. Actually, a portion of the proposed amendment was added to ensure that traffic hearing officers get training to understand when a defendant’s constitutional right against self-incrimination may be effected.
These issues can lead to a complicated situation for someone facing traffic court in Broward County. Consequently, matters such as these clearly show how important is it to have a traffic ticket attorney represent you. Call the Traffic Ticket Team at 954-967-9888 for a free consultation. Allow us to help you navigate this difficult process, especially with the various ways counties throughout the State of Florida handle this complex matter.