In Florida and elsewhere, when a suspect is arrested, he/she has a constitutional right to remain silent and consult a lawyer before making any statements or making any important decisions about the case. In fact, for just about every defendant in a criminal case, this is exactly what a suspect or defendant should do. It is exceedingly rare for a person to make a statement to the police at that early stage, with such limited information and without the advice of a criminal defense lawyer, and it doesn’t do anything but hurt the defendant’s case.
As part of this right to remain silent and consult a criminal defense attorney, the police are required to read the Miranda warnings to a suspect who is in custody before any request to speak with him/her about the case. These warnings inform the suspect that he/she has a right to remain silent and a right to a criminal defense lawyer. If the suspect invokes those rights, the police cannot question the suspect about the case.
However, even when a suspect exercises his/her right to remain silent and requests a criminal defense attorney, the police can still ask certain questions about the suspect as part of the arrest and booking process. The police are still permitted to ask biographical and routine booking questions. For example, when the police arrest someone, they fill out reports and enter the suspect’s information into their system. They can ask questions relating to physical characteristics, age, address, date of birth, place of employment and similar identifying characteristics. The police cannot ask questions that are designed to elicit information about the case.