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Dealing with cops, understanding your rights,.... by a cop.

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posted on Jan, 13 2011 @ 07:51 PM
This post spawns from the numerous threads about law enforcement and people's rights being violated, real or imagined. It is my desire to help you understand your rights when dealing with an officer and also how to deal with officers in general. I cannot speak for other countries other than the US as most the state's laws are very similar and we all use case law from the other states to help us interpret our own laws. Also, I cannot speak for every situation, but will try to address the most common ones, i.e. traffic stops, license checks, street interviews.

The most common place that you are going be confronted by an officer is at a traffic stop. There are numerous reasons for a traffic stop and they break down into two categories: Probable cause and reasonable suspicion.

Probable cause: This is used to stop you when a law is actually broken. For example; failure to stop for a red light, headlamp out, speeding, etc.

Reasonable suspicion: This is used to stop you when an officer sees things that makes him believe that a law is being broken and he wants to investigate. For example; swerving, seeing you lift a brown bag to your lips, your car matches the description of one used in another crime, etc.

These two categories are used for all areas of law enforcement and investigations.

When you are stopped by an officer you have to assume that he had a valid reason, otherwise a halfway decent attorney will get the case thrown out of court and the officer looks like an idiot and his reputation in the courtroom starts to dwindle. He cannot afford this because it is a career ender.

Your rights when stopped: First, you must realize that driving is a privilege not a right. You must produce a valid driver’s license, proof of insurance, and vehicle registration upon request. The officer will usually run your license number through your state’s system and if this is a reasonable suspicion stop and nothing else is amiss usually that will be the end of it. If it is a probable cause stop, then he may or may not write you a citation at his discretion. Your rights against unreasonable search and seizure are in place. The officer may ask you for a “consent search” which is just that, one done with your consent. If he ask to search your car he may not use the word consent, he may just say that he would like to search your car. You have the right to refuse, even if you give consent, you have the right to say stop at any point during the search unless the officer has found something that gives him the right to continue without your permission. If you do refuse a search and the officer has a good reason to detain you he can do so for a reasonable amount of time depending on what he believes he is going to find. If he is looking for drugs, then he will probably just call for a K-9 to sniff around your car. If it is something more serious, like a large quantity of drugs or stolen property he may see the magistrate for a search warrant which may take an hour or two. If this is the case he had better turn up something good or his credibility is ruined.

Now, what if you run into the super trooper that doesn’t care about your rights, and we all know that they are out there. If you run into this individual, do what he says and be polite. Note his name and his badge number and any other identifying features. After you have calmed down write out a complete statement of the events including dates, times, and all that was said. Use his chain of command or Internal affairs division to report him. Even though you may be pissed off this is the proper way to go about it. If this idiot will violate your rights, then arguing with him on the side of the road is a bad idea. You could end up getting tazed or worse.
If the officer ask you to step out of the car, follow the instructions. He may want to pat you down for weapons for his own safety; this is his right and is granted by law. If you are not asked to get out of the car, stay in the car. When you get out of the car the officer may view this as an act of aggression and tell you to get back in your car, do so. Remember, you know your intentions, he doesn’t.

Keep your responses to a simple yes or no. Remember, what you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. If you have done no wrong this should not be a problem.

What if you have broken the law? Perhaps there’s a roach or some seeds in your car’s ashtray. If you are caught, be honest. This goes a long way. Remember, this is very important; if the cop ask you questions before he arrest you, he is not required to give you your Miranda warning. If he arrest you and does not ask you questions while you are under arrest, then he is not required to give you your Miranda warning. Arrest and questioning have to exist at the same time for Miranda to be required. Anything you say without being asked is called spontaneous utterances and can be used against you.

Getting along with the officer:

There are more cocky officers with bad attitudes than there are good ones. There are many reasons for this but one of the biggest is fear. That’s right…fear. The officer must feel that he/she is in control of the situation and that you view him in a position of authority. If not, he is out of control and this is a scary situation for him. So to compensate for this fear he develops the cocky attitude. The problem is that most officers cannot differentiate between the circumstances that need this attitude and the ones that do not. In other words, if the officer just came from a fight at the bar where he needed all the control that he could muster and then stops you for running a stop sign, he may find it hard to make the transition. This is not an excuse, but it is a fact.

Your job is to put the officer at ease. Be polite. Keep your hands out of your pockets. Look the officer in the eye when you speak to him. Even if the officer smarts off to you, do not retaliate. This brings about what we call “contempt of cop”. When the less experienced officer is confronted by someone with superior intellect he may resort to a more aggressive response, such as verbal abuse or arrest. If the cop is unprofessional, you be the professional, do not drop to his level.

There is much more to say on this subject but I will stop here. Maybe myself or others can answer questions about specific situations. Thanks for reading.

edit on 13-1-2011 by seeashrink because: spacing

posted on Jan, 13 2011 @ 08:10 PM
You make some good points. And your advice is solid. I'd like to see this thread go somewhere, so S&F from me.
When I meet, or know of a cop who deserves the respect of that uniform he has on, I try to support them. Unfortunately, there are far too few of you out there anymore.

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posted on Jan, 13 2011 @ 08:11 PM
It's good to see things from the other side. Thanks for posting.

What I take issue with is when you said driving is a privilege not a right. Maybe, if you use the term driving which in legal terms is a commercial activity. Travelling however is a right not a privilege. We all have the lawful right to travel. That's lawful not legal.

posted on Jan, 13 2011 @ 08:13 PM
reply to post by seeashrink

Thank you for being as candid as you were.

A lot of this, I was already aware of and already knew, but some I did not, so thank you.

My question to you is, what happens when an officer lies about something you didn't do? It becomes your word against his, and in any court I've been to, that usually creates a situation that ends up bad for the non-offending person. What advice can you give in a situation like that?



posted on Jan, 13 2011 @ 08:22 PM
reply to post by SonOfTheLawOfOne

You're right and this happens too often. It will normally go in the cops favor on a word against word. If you are innocent and did not have an attorney, appeal and get one. Make sure your attorney has all the facts before the case returns to trial. If the cop drummed up some false charges, he is dirty and we want him off the street. If you win on the appeal the cops credibility is damaged. If he is dishonest, this is a good thing.

posted on Jan, 13 2011 @ 08:23 PM
Good post. Luckily the area i live in is in short supply of snarky power abusive cops, i've only seen one in my 20 years of living here. Cops that truly live up to the badge deserve a lot of respect. The ones that are just power hungry...well just fake the respect in front of them and bad mouth them in your mind
. Star and flag for you.

posted on Jan, 13 2011 @ 08:25 PM
reply to post by Namaste1001

I agree. Traveling is a right. To have a driver's license is an earned priveledge. That is why you have to pass training, pass a test, have insurance, and a registered vehicle. Again, I agree, travelling is a right.

posted on Jan, 13 2011 @ 08:34 PM
Hey guys, this is what I do every time I get pulled over and I would advise you to do it too......

I record the conversation on my phone, and I place the phone above the steering wheel on the dash so it has no problem recording. Not that I get pulled over a lot, but i've had my dealings with good and bad cops, and you never know which kind youre getting. So do everyone a favor in keeping the bad cops in check by recording!

posted on Jan, 13 2011 @ 08:35 PM
Good idea to post this on here. A lot of times, the public really does have the wrong idea about us. Sure , there are some bad cops out there, but there are bad everythings. I couldn't live with myself if I violated citizens rights on purpose, abused power. The majority feel the same way. Thanks again for the OP!

posted on Jan, 13 2011 @ 08:35 PM
Why is driving a privelege? What about travelling? Is travelling a right or a privelege? Citizens pay for the roads and upkeep i would thonk of it as a right. Of course you have to have rules but i would still think of it as a right and not something awarded as a privelege by the government.

+47 more 
posted on Jan, 13 2011 @ 08:41 PM

First, you must realize that driving is a privilege not a right.

1. Free people can not have their right to travel regulated by their servants.

The forgotten legal maxim is that free people have a right to travel on the roads which are provided by their servants for that purpose, using ordinary transportation of the day.

The Right of the Citizen to travel upon the public highways and to transport his property thereon, by horse drawn carriage, wagon, or automobile, is not a mere privilege which may be permitted or prohibited at will, but the common Right which he has under his Right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Under this Constitutional guarantee one may, therefore, under normal conditions, travel at his inclination along the public highways or in public places, and while conducting himself in an orderly and decent manner, neither interfering with nor disturbing another's Rights, he will be protected, not only in his person, but in his safe conduct." II Am.Jur. (1st) Constitutional Law, Sect.329, p.1135

"The use of the highways for the purpose of travel and transportation is not a mere privilege, but a common and fundamental Right of which the public and the individual cannot be rightfully deprived." Chicago Motor Coach vs. Chicago, 169 NE 22?1; Ligare vs. Chicago, 28 NE 934; Boon vs. Clark, 214 SSW 607; 25 Am.Jur. (1st) Highways Sect.163

"The Right of the Citizen to travel upon the public highways and to transport his property thereon, either by horse drawn carriage or by automobile, is not a mere privilege which a city can prohibit or permit at will, but a common Right which he has under the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Thompson vs. Smith, 154 SE 579

There are hundreds of court precedences that establish the right to travel in an automobile, it is sad that LEOs are not trained to recognize this and are trained to perform traffic stops in order to collect money for the state.

Besides that, star and flag for ya!

posted on Jan, 13 2011 @ 08:43 PM
reply to post by Keeper of Kheb

In the most basic of terms, you are correct. It is a right in the sense that you have the right to drive IF you meet the requirements. Everybody has that same right. It is a priveledge in that when you earn a driver's license, it can be taken away from you for certain violation or a culminations of violations. I think that you would agree that a habitual drunk driver needs his license suspended, etc.

posted on Jan, 13 2011 @ 08:48 PM
Good information in the OP for sure. I've ran across some very cocky cops in my lifetime, and most of the time I gave them a reason to be cocky, but that was in my younger days. There was one cop that I went to high school with. We were enemies in school and ten years later he was a cop that pulled me over. He hassled me for no reason and when I told him what I thought of him, he arrested me.

His chief came along while I was in the back of the car. After I told the chief my side of the story, I was released and the cop was chewed out. I also knew the chief. It has been a few years since I saw this cop again. I saw him today working at Advance Auto Parts where my uncle works. I was told he lost his job as a cop because he had constant complaints against him by the public for over reaching his authority. I thought it was so funny and I was so happy to hear that he was off the streets as a cop. So sometimes, the bad cop finally gets what is coming to them....
edit on 13-1-2011 by kennylee because: spelling

posted on Jan, 13 2011 @ 08:50 PM
reply to post by greenovni

Lol, thanks....I think. I understand what you are saying. I think that there is a difference between a right to travel and a right to drive. For the safety of all there must be a uniform set of highway/driving laws. What if everyone just drove on the side of the rode that suited them that day? What if 10 year olds decided that they were going to drive? What if people just stopped at intersections when they wanted to? I know this sounds silly but you get the point. Some laws have to exist.

posted on Jan, 13 2011 @ 08:54 PM
You left out the most important aspect - don't lie. Cops have seen and heard it all, when you say 'I don't know how it got there' or 'it's not mine' or 'these aren't my pants', you're just insulting their intelligence.

posted on Jan, 13 2011 @ 08:55 PM
reply to post by kennylee

Good story. It's funny, I have known a number of cops that have lost there jobs and ended up at Advance Auto. I wonder why that is?
I am responsible for taking some bad cops off the street and I will continue to do so as long as it is within my power. Thank you for speaking up about this bad cop. That's a story with a happy ending.

posted on Jan, 13 2011 @ 08:56 PM

Originally posted by StlSteve
You left out the most important aspect - don't lie. Cops have seen and heard it all, when you say 'I don't know how it got there' or 'it's not mine' or 'these aren't my pants', you're just insulting their intelligence.

Read the OP again. He did say to be honest....

posted on Jan, 13 2011 @ 08:57 PM
reply to post by kennylee

Sorry, my bad

posted on Jan, 13 2011 @ 08:58 PM
reply to post by StlSteve

Yes! I said "be honest, it goes a long way". But thanks for reinforcing the point. We have heard it all and its amazing how people think that they are the first to come up with the lie they are telling.
Thanks for the reply.

posted on Jan, 13 2011 @ 08:59 PM

edit on 13-1-2011 by PoorFool because: n/a

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