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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Know Your Rights! What the Police preferred you didn't know

Police officers are generally depicted as public servants, but they can be your worst enemy when they count on people like you not knowing your constitutional rights. Just because you or your children didn't know they had rights under the constitution and gave up those rights by talking to a police officer or a federal agent without an attorney could cost you dearly. This includes even a casual conversation that could happen on a traffic stop or on a sidewalk.

What To Do If A Police Officer Stops You

To stop you a police officer must have a specific reason to suspect your involvement in a specific crime and should be able to tell you the reason. This is known as reasonable suspicion. Most times you are probably getting pulled over for a traffic violation such as speeding or maybe a tail light is out. Although the stop may seem wrong or unfair, the police believe they have a reason to stop you. Throwing a cigarette butt out of your car window is a reason for the police to pull you over and ticket you for littering and to ask you all sorts of questions.

Your Rights During a Police Encounter. Rules you should know to protect yourself from the police:

Rule #1 - Never talk to a police officer. Keep your mouth shut! (You never have to answer any questions a police officer may ask, except for your name, address and date of birth.)

Rule #2 - Never talk to a police officer. Keep your mouth shut! (How can you be charged with something if you haven't said anything?) Remember anything you say or do will be used against you.

Rule #3 - "Am I Free to Go?" As soon as a police officer ask you a question, ask the police officer, "Am I Free to Go?" If you are detained or arrested by a police officer, tell them that you are going to remain silent and that you would like to speak to a lawyer.

Rule #4 - Safety. Never bad-mouth a police officer. Stay calm and in control of your words, body language and your emotions. Always keep your hands where the police officer can see them. Don't run away and never touch a police officer!

Rule #5 - Refuse to Consent to Searches. Just say NO to searches! Remember if the police didn't need your permission, they wouldn't be asking you. Never give permission to a police officer to search you, your car or your home. If a police officer does search you, don't resist!

Rule #6 - Ask for a Supervisor. If all else fails and you feel the police officer is abusing your rights, ask him to call his "supervisor" to your location.

Traffic Stops

The police officer usually will ask you to show the usual documentation, such as your driver's license, registration and proof of insurance. You don't have to open your window more than a crack to hand it to the police officer. If the police officer ask you to roll down your window so that he may speak to you, you may tell him that you have nothing to say to him and ask him "AM I FREE TO GO?"

On traffic stops the police usually will ask you "personal" questions such as, where are you going, where have you been, who did you see, how long did you visit, ect. At that point it's the perfect time to exercise your RIGHTS by asking the police officer, "AM I FREE TO GO?" There is NO legal requirement that citizens provide information about their comings and goings to police officers! Another words it's none of the police officers damn business! If you are ordered out of your car, lock the door behind you.

Remember that the officer is not trying to be your buddy and become a new friend, they are on a "fishing expedition" to find something against you! They have nothing criminal on you, so they're looking for anything while they have you pulled over. It's the police officers burden to prove that you have broken a law, so bite your tongue and keep your mouth!

A good time to ask "AM I FREE TO GO," is after the police officer has given you a "warning" or a "ticket" and you have signed it. Once you have signed that ticket the traffic stop is legally over with, so says the Supreme Court. Now if you want to stand around and shoot the breeze with the police officer or answer his questions, that is up to you. Just remember there's no law that requires you to answer questions or talk to a police officer. After you have signed the ticket ask the police officer, "AM I FREE TO GO?"

Anything You Say Can And Will Be Used Against You!

Staying silent will not hurt you. Do not let the police persuade you to talk! The officer may not like this and challenge you with words like, "If you have nothing to hide, why won't you speak to me?" Just like the first question, you do not have to answer this second question either. A police officer may tell you that staying quiet will make things worse for you or that they'll go easy on you if you talk them, but this is not true!

You have every right NOT to talk to a police officer, and you shouldn't speak to them unless you have first consulted with a lawyer who has advised you differently. Some police officers are worse than others and some of them may treat you differently if they think you "know your rights." The police depend on fear and intimidation to get what they want from you.

If you run into a really bad cop, talking back to him and standing up for your rights might get you beaten up or killed, so be careful about the realistic limits of the law and of your rights as an American. Cops are perhaps the most dangerous members of our society, so be careful when you talk to them.

The Federal Supreme Court has ruled that as long as the police do not force an individual to do something, the individual is acting voluntarily, even if a normal person would feel very intimidated and would not reasonably feel they could say no. See (Florida v. Bostick, 1991) If you do what a policeman tells you to do before you are arrested, you are 'voluntarily' complying with their 'requests.'

Be as nice as possible, but stand firm on your rights! Read the Fourth & Fifth Amendments


Car Searches And Body Searches

Remember they wouldn't ask you if they didn't need your permission!

A police officers swore an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution and not to violate your rights against unreasonable search and seizure. If a police officer ask or tries to search you, your home or your car, say repeatedly "I DON'T CONSENT TO THIS SEARCH."

"The right to be free from unreasonable searches is one of America's most precious First Liberties"

You DON'T have to give consent to any law enforcement officer to search your vehicle or home. While you DON'T have to consent, bear in mind that the expectation of privacy in a car is less than the expectation of privacy in your home. Based in part on the lessened expectation of privacy in a car, law enforcement officers are permitted to conduct a warrantless search of a car if the officer has probable cause. "In most cases the police officer will lie and make up a probable cause."

Just for being stopped for a traffic violation should not allow the officer to search your car; however, if the officer saw you throw an empty beer can out the window, that may be sufficient probable cause to search your car. If the officer "thinks" he smells marijuana as he approaches the car, he then may use that as probable cause to search you car.

Police Pat Downs...

The law allows police to pat down your outer clothing for the protection of the officer if you're being detained. The officer may only pat your outer clothing to see if you have any weapons. If the police officer feels something that could be a weapon, then the police officer can go into your pockets and pull out the item he thinks is a weapon. Otherwise a police officer CAN'T go through your pockets or tell you to empty your pockets. By law the only time a police officer may go through your pockets is if you're under arrest.

To protect yourself make it clear that you "don't consent to a search" and ask the police officer why he is searching you. Remember the reason they give you. If they claim to have a warrant, ask to see it. Whether or not they have a warrant, you can protect your CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS by making it clear that you do not consent to a search.

If the Police Knock at Your Home-You Don't Have to Open the Door!

If the police knock and ask to enter your home, you DON'T have to open the door unless they have a warrant signed by a judge. Such an invitation not only gives the police officer the opportunity to look around for clues to your lifestyle, friends, reading material, etc; but also tends to prolong the conversation.

There is no law that says you have to open your door to a police officer. Don't open your door with the chain-lock on either, the police may shove their way in. Simply shout to the police officers "I HAVE NOTHING TO SAY."

If the police do have a search warrant, ask them to see it and make sure that it is signed, has the correct date, correct address, and apartment number, ect.

* In some emergency situations (like when a person is screaming for help inside a home, when the police are chasing someone or if someone has called 911) officers are allowed to enter and search your home without a warrant.
Never agree to go to the police station for questioning. Simply say, "I HAVE NOTHING TO SAY."

If a Police Officer Stops You On The Sidewalk...

You are perfectly within your rights to say to the officer who asks to speak with you, "Officer I do not want speak with you, good-bye." At this point you should be free to leave the officer's presence. The officer may not like this and may challenge you with words like, "If you have nothing to hide, why won't you speak to me?" Just like the first question, you do not have to answer this question either.

There is NO law that says you must tell a police officer where you are going or where you have been. So keep your mouth shut and say nothing!

The next step the police officer might take is to ask for identification. If you have identification on you, tell the officer where it is and ask permission to reach for it.

Probable Cause...

A police officer has no right to detain you unless there exists reasonable suspicion that you committed a crime or traffic violation. However a police officer is always allowed to initiate a voluntary conversation with you.

Sometimes it is unclear whether or not a person is detained. If you are in doubt, you should ask the police officer if you are in "Am I Free to Leave." Now if the police officer doesn't have "probable cause", and you refuse him to search your car, he might bring in a drug dog. At this point since the officer has no probable cause, he may be illegally detaining you. Tell the officer that you have an appointment and you're running late, and you really don't have time to stay. Ask him if you're "Free to Leave" so that you're not late for that appointment.

Under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, police may engage in "reasonable" searches and seizures. To prove that a search is "reasonable," the police must generally show that it is more likely than not that a crime has occurred, and that if a search is conducted it is probable that they will find either stolen goods or evidence of the crime. This is called "probable cause."

Police may use first hand information, or tips from an "informant" to justify the need to search your property. If an informant's information is used, the police must prove that the information is reliable under the circumstances.

Here is a case where the police used an "informant's" word and the police officers took it upon themselves to kick in a door of a home at 1:30 in the morning without obtaining a search warrant. The aftermath was six police officers firing over 30 shots and shooting an innocent man 9 times in the back as he laid on the ground.

What You Don't Know Could Change Your Life Forever...

You might be wondering, don't police tell me that I have the right not to be searched? After all when a suspect is arrested, he is told before interrogation takes place that he has the right to remain silent.

The Supreme Court has said NO. According to the Court, the fact that a person might not know he has the right to refuse a search is merely one factor in the determination of whether his consent is voluntary. The Court has reasoned that the police do not need to give warnings -- to eliminate any doubt about the suspect's knowledge of her rights -- because warnings might detract from the informality of an otherwise "friendly" interaction between "civilians and the police." So you might ask yourself, is someone that would use something against you really a "friend?"

The Supreme Court has explained that "the community has a real interest in encouraging consent, for the resulting search may yield necessary evidence for the solution and prosecution of crime...." Furthermore, the Court has concluded, it would be "thoroughly impractical" to require an effective warning about the right to refuse.

Can We Trust the Cops?

Are police officers allowed to lie to you? Yes the Supreme Court has ruled that a police officer can lie to a citizen while questioning them. Police officers are very good at lying, twisting words and they are trained to be manipulative. Police officers and other law enforcement agents are very skilled at getting information from people. So don't try to out smart the cop or try being a smooth talker because you will loose! If you can keep your mouth shut, you might just come out ahead more then you expected.

The federal government made a law that says citizens can't lie to federal agents. They can lie to us, but we can't lie to them. Makes perfect since don't it? The best thing you can do is ask for a lawyer and keep your mouth shut. How can you be charged with something if you haven’t said anything?

Although police officers may seem nice and pretend to be on your side, they are likely to be intent on learning about the habits, opinions, and affiliations of people not suspected of wrongdoing, with the end goal of stopping political activity with which the government disagrees. Don't try to answer the police officers questions, or try to "educate them" about your cause, it can be very dangerous! You can never tell how a seemingly harmless bit of information that you give the police officer might be used and misconstrued to hurt you or someone else. And keep in mind that lying to a federal agent is a crime.

Officers may promise shorter sentences and other deals for statements or confessions. The police cannot legally make deals with people they arrest. The only person who can make a deal that can be enforced is the prosecutor, and he should not talk with you without a lawyer present who represents you.

Teach your children that the cops are not always their friends, and the police officer must contact a parent for permission to ask your child any questions. Remember that the police are trained to put you at ease and to get you to trust them. Their job is to find, arrest and help convict a suspect. And that suspect is you!

Lies That The Police Use To Get You To Talk...

There are many ways the police will try to trick you into talking. Its always safest just to say the Magic Words: I'm going to remain silent and I want a lawyer.

The following are common lie's the police use when they’re trying to get you to talk:

* "You will have to stay here and answer my questions" or "You're not leaving until I find out what I want."

* "I have evidence on you. Tell me what I want to know or else." (They can fabricate ''fake'' evidence to convince you to tell them what they want to know.)

* "You’re not a suspect. Were simply investigating here. Just help us understand what happened and then you can go."

* "If you don’t answer my questions, I won’t have any choice but to take you to jail."

* "If you don’t answer these questions, you’ll be charged with resisting arrest."

If The Police Arrest You...

If you are arrested, the police can search you and the area close by. If you are in a building, "close by" usually means just the room you are in. If during a search or an arrest the police take anything from you, they must give you a receipt for every item seized, including your wallet and its contents, clothes, and any packages you were carrying when arrested.


* Even if your rights weren't read, refuse to talk until your lawyer/public defender arrives.

* If your arrested and can not afford an attorney, you have the right to a public defender. If you get a public defender always make it clear that the public defender is not representing you, but merely is serving as your counsel.

* Do not talk to the inmates in jail about your case.

* Within a reasonable time after your arrest, or booking, you have the right to make a local phone call: to a lawyer, bail bondsman, a relative or any other person. The police may not listen to the call to the lawyer.

* If you're on probation or parole, tell your P.O. you've been arrested, but nothing else.

* You may be released with or without bail following the booking. If not, you have the right to go into court and see a judge the next court day after your arrest. Demand this RIGHT! When you appear before the judge, ask for an attorney. An attorney has a better chance at convincing a judge to let you out on a lower bail then you could.

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