Your favorite Clearwater criminal defense attorney is often asked whether one must obey on officer’s commands. In fact the first few minutes of any initial encounter you have with an officer may be the most important factor in determining whether you’re arrested. If you are not going to co-operate nor obey an officer’s commands, then it’s especially important that you remain calm, reasonable and courteous.

Here is a summary of how to deal with an officer’s requests or commands for information and the various factors that may come into play in determining how you should handle the situation.

The Florida Highway Patrol investigates DUI manslaughter cases, accidents and investigates drugs found in vehicles.
Florida Highway Patrol 

The first consideration is how and where the confrontation with the police originates. 
An officer knocking at your home door who has no reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed has much less leeway to compel you to act than one who has reason to believe you are armed, dangerous and just left the scene of a murder. 

While at home every American has a high expectation to privacy rights. This means if an officer attempts to compel a home owner to allow a search for evidence, he must have a search warrant or an arrest warrant or have an appropriate legal exception to not have the proper warrant. 

One need never give consent to search if the officer does not have a search warrant. Yet in Florida courts may allow officers who claim to have suspicion that a crime has or is being committed by for example, smelling marijuana at the door of a home, to search without a warrant and to make arrests of the occupants without an arrest warrant.

If an officer initiates an arrest without an arrest warrant, must one obey the officer and allow the arrest? In Florida one can resist an illegal arrest only if no force or violence is used. In practice what this means is that one may tell the officer why one should not be arrested, but if force is used the officer may file a felony charge of resisting arrest with violence or battery on a law enforcement officer.

Many citizen and officer confrontations occur while a citizen is away from home. For example, when an officer stops a driver for an infraction such as speeding or improper lane change, then the officer has a right to demand a drivers license and proof of insurance. If there’s an indication of drugs, drinking, impairment or DUI, then the officer will investigate, but the driver need not obey the officer’s commands to take field sobriety test, HGN tests nor to give a breath sample. 

If there was a car accident or a suspected DUI manslaughter then the officer has the further right under Florida law to conduct an accident investigation. Every Florida driver under the law has an obligation to provide sufficient information for the completion of that investigation. At the end of the accident investigation then the officer will conduct a criminal investigation, if necessary, at which time the driver need not co-operate. 

If you are confronting an officer’s request or command, remember that your primary goal is not to be arrested. Treat the officer how you’d want to be treated. By being calm, courteous and reasonable your expectation will be that a good officer will be courteous, reasonable and fair to you in return; if he’s not immediately ask for a Tampa Bay criminal lawyer who will ensure that your rights are protected.


Nearly a year ago a woman sped off after striking and killing a pedestrian in Pinellas Park, resulting in a classic unsolved hit and run case. The cold case could have remained unsolved if the woman herself hadn’t called the police to her home.

Foolishly, she called police to her house because she said she was afraid of her live in boyfriend, recently released from jail on worthless check charges. Maybe she was right to be apprehensive of him because he told the police she was the perpetrator of the hit and run also known as leaving the scene of an accident with injury, that she’d told him everything and when police confronted her they say she confessed.

Even though police believe the pedestrian violated the driver’s right of way that night, the driver had a legal duty under Florida Statutes to stop and identify herself and to render aid.

The St. Petersburg Times noted that a Pinellas Park police inspection of the accident vehicle revealed that it was still heavily damaged after almost a year from the fatal crash. 

“We found pieces of the turn signal and the passenger side mirror at the scene (of Fisher’s death),” said Pinellas Park police Sgt. Brian Unmisig, “and they matched the parts that the vehicle was missing.” She was booked into the Pinellas jail, where she was being held Tuesday in lieu of $52,250 bail
Criminal Defense Attorney and Trial Lawyer for Drug Crimes & DUI in Clearwater, FL

The purpose of this law is not to establish who was at fault in the accident nor to apportion blame. The idea is that anytime there is a crash involving injuries the driver must stop, identify herself and render aid if necessary. Clearly, if the driver at the scene was impaired then a DUI Manslaughter investigation will take place, if at fault without impairment a Vehicular Homicide investigation will begin, or if the accident was the result of premeditation possible Murder or Homicide charges. (see statute below)
316.027 Crash involving death or personal injuries.

(1)(a) The driver of any vehicle involved in a crash occurring on public or private property that results in injury of any person must immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the crash, or as close thereto as possible, and must remain at the scene of the crash until he or she has fulfilled the requirements of s. 316.062. Any person who willfully violates this paragraph commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in statutes.
(b) The driver of any vehicle involved in a crash occurring on public or private property that results in the death of any person must immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the crash, or as close thereto as possible, and must remain at the scene of the crash until he or she has fulfilled the requirements of the law.

The Clearwater Police ask your help in solving this very Cold Case. 

Things have changed since this Model T was the fastest – and only – car on the road in 1910.


The victim’s family forgives if not forgets. Despite their pleas for mercy – even for no jail time for the Defendant in a DUI Manslaughter case – a local Jazz Singer’s family members found that only the Judge has the power to sentence a convicted man.
The Jazz Singer, a preacher’s daughter, was known for her beautiful voice, her kind forgiving heart and a keen sense of jazz tempo while performing in Tampa Bay, Clearwater and Pinellas County, Florida.

“You’re very forgiving,” the Judge said softly to the religious family, then voice hardening the Judge looked toward  the Defendant saying, “But the court has decisions to make….You’re going to take responsibility.” 
The Judge sentenced the Defendant to the maximum amount of time, 15 years in prison for the conviction. The Defendant had a prior record, anger issues, a drug habit and on the night of the incident mixed prescription pain killers, Xanax, Vicodin with vodka before causing a terrible crash sending the Jazz Singer’s car airborne according to an article in the St. Petersburg Times. 
Billie Holiday, a great American jazz singer, songwriter and actress. Her vocal style, strongly inspired by jazz instrumentalists, pioneered a new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo. She died in 1959.


A recent DUI manslaughter case in Pinellas County pits two sets of parents against each other. One set of parents have lost a child to death, the other set of parents may lose their child to the criminal justice system with a Judge and at least one Clearwater Criminal Defense Lawyer wondering what Solomon might do; cut the Defendant in half?
The two USF students had been friends since kindergaten till the terrible night when an automobile accident took the life of one while the other was driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI).
The driver has shown remorse, talking thru her tears about the dangers of alcohol and the loss of her best friend to high schools and college students.
Should the survivor be sent to prison? The parents of the dead child want fifteen years. The parents of the living child want no prison at all. The prosecutor wants ten years.
Clearly the driver should be punished. However, DUI Manslaughter may be one of the few crimes where an assumption of risk by the victim should be considered in sentencing.
The victim also chose to drink that night. The victim chose to get into that car knowing that her friend was impaired, under the influence and likely DUI. Shouldn’t her decisions have some impact on the outcome of the case?
If so, jail should not be as inevitable as mercy. If your seeking the best possible arguments in a Tampa Bay murder case contact a Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney.