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What to do if you’re stopped by the police (cassandraxia.com)
240 points by cassbot on Jan 14, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 184 comments

Former cop here. The article states "You cannot lie to the police". This is, generally, incorrect. Some jurisdictions may have some specific law, but other than certain exceptions, lying has no general consequence. If it did, there would be a lot more charges against pretty much everyone who has been arrested. In my experience, people will lie about stuff that's not even relevant, or helpful to them.

Exceptions include things like giving a fake ID or name/dob or SSN to avoid certain identifications (e.g. on a traffic stop). Also, lying to a federal agent during their investigation is illegal, to my understanding. In Virginia, if you lie to the police regarding the investigation of a different person than yourself, it is considered obstruction of justice, though I can think of maybe one time that I heard of that law being used that way.

But in general, it's a good article. Assert your rights politely, but firmly. If the cop disregards it, don't try to stop them. If the cop does illegal stuff violating 4th and 5th amendment, there's a chance the case gets tossed (as it should). If you try to physically stop the 4th amendment violation, and you're wrong about it being a violation, you just made your problem worse.

Of the people who've accused me of violating their rights, 0 have been correct, but plenty of people have asserted their rights, and stopped an investigation that I had reasonable suspicion, but not probable cause on, and no further means to reasonably develop PC.

A caveat to lying: even if your particular jurisdiction doesn't criminalize lying to law enforcement, it can result in a truly devastating jury instruction. The judge will literally instruct the jury "It is reasonable to infer that an innocent person does not usually find it necessary to invent or fabricate an explanation or statement..."


When you re-read the GP, recalling that the police are allowed to lie to you, realize that includes telling you it's ok to lie to them.

My attorney has advised me (over social beers, not while preparing me for a court appearance :-) ) that while I can lie to the police, if I do and the prosecution can prove it, they will beat me like a drum with the fact I lied throughout any prosecution. Basically, there are no direct consequences, but if things get hairy, there can be indirect consequences.

In the State of Indiana, where I reside,

> A person who:

> (1) gives a false report of the commission of a crime or gives false information in the official investigation of the commission of a crime, knowing the report or information to be false;

> ...

> knowing the report or information to be false; commits false informing [0]

I've omitted (for brevity) several other things that also make a person guilty of this particular crime but read (1) again and think about how absolutely vague that sentence really is:

> gives false information in the official investigation of the commission of a crime, knowing the report or information to be false;

(Note that, here, both making a "false identity statement" and "assisting a criminal" are completely separate crimes; the above simply regards any "false information", generally.)

Granted, a prosecutor likely wouldn't bother wasting his time and the government's money to charge you over some inconsequential, petty lie but that might not stop a police officer from arresting you and making you spend a day or two in jail over it -- especially if he's having a bad day or you've done something to piss him off. Is that really a chance you want to take?

Personally, I feel that the best ("smartest") thing one can say when such an "opportunity" arises is absolutely nothing. To paraphrase Proverbs (17:28), "Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise." [1]

[0]: Indiana Code, Title 35, Article 44.1, Chapter 2, Section 3

Yeah but if you're being pulled over for illegitimate reasons none of that technically applies. If it goes to court and it's your word against the police's then you are at a potential disadvantage, unless you run into a jury of your fellow proletariat.

I'm still unclear on what to do when a police officer has demonstrated intent to hurt or kill you, despite your cooperation.

>Police have a tough job. They are on the lookout for any sign of danger. Make it clear that you are a sane, reasonable person. Keep your hands visible at all times. Avoid the element of surprise.

> If you have any weapons or potentially dangerous items on you, keep your hands visible at all times and inform the officer. Inform the officer of your every move, if you need to reach for anything (your identification, your registration, etc.).

I'm still unclear on what to do when a police officer has demonstrated intent to hurt or kill you, despite your cooperation.

Pick up sticks and get away as fast as possible. Expect to be shot at.

You can run from many kinds of encounters with Police when there's no presumption of guilt.

They're not allowed to use force in pursuit unless necessary, and running does not make it necessary on its own.

Fighting back is a good way to end up in jail as well as dead. Running can result in you getting away free at least.

Reminds me of "surviving edged weapons" https://youtube.com/watch?v=Vix6-afHzMg (don't watch it if you are faint of heart or dislike gory scenes)

You're basically screwed. Go ahead and defend yourself, but you'll likely be charged with a serious crime.

Were you a federal, state, or local cop? Lying to a federal officer is a felony. Lying to a local cop can be less of a problem, but the feds can even make that a big deal if the entity being lied to receives federal funding.


Lying is an act of speech and the government is prohibited from abridging that right according to the first amendment. We all know how that goes. Graduates of Yale, Harvard, et al. are appointed to SCOTUS over the course of generations. They parse plain language to mean whatever suits them and, well, here we are.

You're not the cops I've dealt with but thanks for being good sports when I go hard on you guys when you falsely arrest me and stuff. Eventually the realization dawns that I am rich and will fight back (I don't look it, drive an old car, wear old clothes) and magically the charges go away. Occasionally, I have to prove one of you perjured yourself.

This makes me wonder how much of legal decision-making is based on the actual law and the arguments being made, and how much is based on one's adherence to proper "courtroom culture" demonstrating that you're sophisticated enough to warrant bargaining with, rather than dictated to.

Approximately zero percent is based on law. Its based on what the enforcers think they can get away with.

IANAL but my understanding was that lying to the police opens you up to obstruction of justice charges -- or perjury.

For instance, I learned from law professor James Duane's video that Martha Stewart would have completely avoided prison time if she had not lied to investigators.


Lying in court is always* illegal. Lying in general, e.g "I didn't steal anything", "I only had 2 beers", "These aren't my pants", is not inherently illegal. All of these are lies I've been told.

As a cop, if you get caught lying, i.e. intentionally false testimony in court, your career is effectively over. Any defense attorney can bring that one time you got caught lying up in court, discounting your entire testimony on every case forever, making you useless. No matter how bad you screw up as a cop, the number 1 rule is don't lie about it in court.

*Maybe not in some jurisdictions? But realistically yeah, always

> Lying in court is always* illegal.

So if you plead not guilty to some crime, and they find you guilty, do you get prosecuted for lying in court with your plead as well as for the original crime?

I believe that entering a plea doesn't count as testimony, thus isnt subject to perjury laws. Most of my cases were plea deals before trial, or were cases where the defendant did not testify. Saying "not guilty" also doesn't necessarily mean you didn't do anything, you may honestly believe at that point, and make the argument, that the thing you did was not illegal.

What about Alford pleas? I thought they existed so that you could reserve the right to appeal or avoid a civil action by avoiding an admission of guilt while acknowledging that you will likely be convicted.

IANAL but from what my lawyer friends have told me an Alford plea is practically the same as a guilty plea for purposes of appeal. In other words, it's very difficult to appeal an Alford plea. Seek legal advice before considering an Alford plea.

Pleading isn't considered "testimonial".

Typically, one is only "sworn in" prior to giving testimony.

A plea is not a statement of fact, is it? It's your opinion and true by definition.

In Brazilian (Roman?) law, you can lie if you are one of the sides, not if you are a witness.

> "These aren't my pants"

I'd love to hear the context for that one :)

Here's an "unusual" one I read about recently:

> He denied having any ID, claimed he could not remember his Social Security umber, and said his name was “Mr. Horrell.”

> After police found a photo ID in the vehicle, he claimed the person pictured was his “identical cousin.”


He was arrested and charged with "privacy invasion and refusal to identify himself". He was acquitted of the former and convicted of the latter -- only to have it later overturned.

So, in this particular case, I suppose he won.

[0]: https://www.theindianalawyer.com/articles/24168-court-refusa...

Guessing there were drugs in one or more pockets.

Never works. I was driving my friend’s car. I had a tire burst on me. I pulled over to the side of the road. Cops showed up in a few minutes and charged me with reckless driving. Made me take three different breathalyzers. I hadn’t been drinking so obviously it showed “well below the legal limit”. But my friend apparently had an empty beer can in the back.

You can never say it wasn’t yours, apparently. In any case, paid the fine. Oh well.

Is it illegal to have an empty beer can in your car?

A couple of German exchange students once told me that you can drink in a car while the car is moving as long as the driver doesn't drink anything.

You have to understand, much of he law that pertains to using a motor vehicle in the US is a pretense to legitimize traffic stops, which are then used for some other purpose (mostly busting drivers for more serious crimes, or else extracting fines from out-of-towners/minorities).

What is the point of having traffic stops of this kind? For example, why can't you just have traffic checks as a normal activity? In some countries (Botswana is an interesting example) the police stop you on public holidays and give you flyers and tell you "drive safely".

Our system allows police to selectively apply traffic rules. This means that the people who find them onerous and can fight back against them tend to be avoided, while more vulnerable people are subject to them more often.

You might remember the protests in Ferguson, MO, after Michael Brown was m̶u̶r̶d̶e̶r̶e̶d̶ killed. A federal investigation later revealed the tense police/public relations under which that incident took place: the jurisdiction was essentially using the traffic laws to extract rent, overwhelmingly from black residents. A traffic citation would require attending court (often without access to a vehicle); if a court date was missed, additional fines and an arrest warrant were issued, which of course the person would only become aware of during the next traffic stop. Police were encouraged to increase stops and citations to make up for lowered taxes. It's regressive fiscal policy you see popular among American conservatives because it shifts the tax burden off of people who are then more likely to vote for them, onto people "deserving" of punishment.


The protection from unreasonable search and seizure is taken to mean that the police can't stop your car without a reason. Since the justice system really really wants to be able to stop your car at will, anything at all can be a "reason".

That would violate our constitution. These sorts of traffic stops are either a bug or a feature, depending who you talk to. I feel that in the absence of clearly reckless driving the police should be unable to stop you. I view these sorts of stops as government run amuck, and a police state. Many Americans would agree, which is why we have constitutional protections beyond most countries (in theory at least). The problem is that hinders the police's ability to solve cases, which is where the "hack" comes in.

That's state dependant. Here is determined by the total volume of alcohol. A beer with a few sips left wouldn't count

In the US, it is.

Yea...US DUI laws are "interesting". I make every effort to not drink and drive, but I definitely don't let anyone in a car I'm driving have an open drink. I've seen way to many 'you just handed your drink to the guy in the back seat' scenes to risk that.

Not everywhere, and it should be nowhere. Which states don't specify that there needs to be alcohol in the container? That seems like a bizarre last, but it certainly wouldn't surprise me.

afaik even the driver may drink. But he is not allowed to be drunk (measured by some test).

Hitching in the 80s, I got picked up by this guy who was drinking beer while driving. That worried me some. But I was shocked when he threw the empty out the window. And when I commented on it, he pointed out that littering was the safest option.


From your link:

"A common trope amongst police officers in the United States is the aphorism: "If you lie, you die." This is indicative of the essential need for trustworthiness in the job—police officers are society's observers, enforcers and professional witnesses—and a warning that any deliberate falsehood can undermine the officer's continued usefulness, resulting in termination. Such terminations have been judicially enforced.[20]"

I personally know of 3 cops who lost their job for dishonesty. It's not even stuff like planting drugs, but turning in fake tickets (court copies never submitted, just office copies).

Further, look up the Brady List. In everywhere I've worked, if you're on it, the Commonwealth's Attorney will not take your cases. Period. If your lawyer loses a case where the witness is a cop who has lied intentionally on record, you have a crappy lawyer or a terribly corrupt judge AND jury

I practiced in Virginia for about 6 years. I handled approx 150 DUIs there. It is in the officers best interest to exaggerate their findings while investigating a crime. So ok. Yeah. Most officers don’t “lie.” But they certainly don’t act objectively either.

You know the onerous discovery policies in Virginia. Prosecutors don’t have to give you much. Even the Constitutionally mandated stuff is impossible to check because the only people who could, defense attorneys, have no way of knowing what exists.

Last, and I think this was op’s point: a lie only becomes a lie if it can be exposed as a lie. Most statements are very difficult to outright prove as a lie. This goes for defendants claiming they have someone else’s pants and for officers who are VERY sure she had bloodshot eyes “which in (their) training and experience are consistent with intoxication by marijuana.”

As a note, the thought process behind the ‘if you lie you die’ theory is contingent upon one thing. The cop has be caught lying. This is primarily because the cop has now made it practically impossible to testify in court on any charge he may have investigated.

The early history of the LAPD (1860's to 1920's) is basically a history of systemic corruption, complete with many many accounts of perjury. I highly recommend The Dollop podcasts on the subject.

She lied to federal investigators. That's illegal. Lying to local or state police, not so much.

Since local or state don't prosecute securities violations, yeah, I guess your right. But there are perjuries that can be committed at the local level, depending on the jurisdiction. Don't assume you can blow smoke and get away with it.

It's not just those feds. Lying to the FBI is a very bad idea. And even if you're guilty of something, they may let it go if it's not their focus. When the feds were first looking for the source of recreational drugs found by the postal service, they interviewed recipients. And as I recall, they didn't prosecute many (any?) of them. Or at least, not end users.


You can't attack another user like this on HN, regardless of how you feel about the police, which I'm sure you have good reasons for.

We ban accounts that violate the site guidelines this badly, so please review https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and don't do this again. Maybe you don't owe the person you're replying to any better—though if you're blasting them just because they belong to a category, maybe you do—but you definitely owe this community much better if you want to participate here.


Good advice, and that "Don't Talk to the Police" video is a classic must-watch for everyone who comes of age in the US.

One other thing which goes along with being polite and courteous, never lie outright to an officer. Use weasel words like, "not that I can think of" or, "I'm not sure why you would think that." That might sound suspicious at first glance, but they'll assume in the moment that just about any direct statement is a lie, anyways.

And even when you are completely confident in your universal innocence, any direct statement can be made to sound like a lie by an officer who wants to keep you off balance. Think like you're dealing with Cardinal Richelieu, who famously said: "If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him."

It's really best to avoid any encounter with cops in the US; we do not practice "policing by consent". Obey basic traffic laws and don't speak to officers on the street, even if you think doing so might help someone. Here and now, all it takes is one bad apple to give your life a terrible and irrevocable turn for the worse, assuming that you are lucky enough to leave the encounter with your life.

Don't get me wrong, I've left plenty of interactions thinking about how polite and professional the officer who I had been speaking to was. But I've also experienced plenty of cops who were callous, dishonest, insecure, and predatory, and we do not have any institutional safeguards to remove them from positions of authority. So any interaction with the law in the US is a roll of the dice, with your life/career/family/etc on the line. Are you feeling lucky?

“ One other thing which goes along with being polite and courteous, never lie outright to an officer. Use weasel words like, "not that I can think of" or, "I'm not sure why you would think that." That might sound suspicious at first glance, but they'll assume in the moment that just about any direct statement is a lie, anyways.”

This is really bad advice. You need to re-watch the video you alluded to in your first paragraph.

You do not talk to police. Period. Unless you are asking a.) if you are being detained or b.) asking if you are being placed under arrest. Or to state your legal name.

It's a fair point, but I'm kind of getting tired of responding to it. I think that such an absolutist stance can be more harmful than helpful in some situations, and that view is backed by my anecdotal but not-insignificant experience.

Some officers do not care about your rights or the law, and if you demand a lawyer when they ask how much cash is in the vehicle after they pull you over for doing 37 in a 35 zone, then you and your lawyer are going to spend a little while dealing with the matter.

Whereas if you give nothing away while remaining polite and courteous and aware that you are probably being lied to, you might drive off with a warning. You might still need to fall back to "am I being detained", but you might not. Sometimes you simply can't completely avoid a conversation, especially when the other party can physically compel you and make up an excuse later.

There is no universal good advice for such difficult and varied situations, and acting as though there is doesn't do anyone any favors. That's why I like this article and commented on it; the author provides useful knowledge and references without being overly prescriptive.

And incidentally, the absolutist "never speak at all" part of the James Duane talk comes with the caveat, "if you are being suspected of a serious crime". The article seems to be more about officer-knocks-on-your-door or traffic stop sort of situations.

> if you demand a lawyer when they ask how much cash is in the vehicle after they pull you over for doing 37 in a 35 zone

Why would they do that? Is that about being a drug dealer?

I've probably been pulled over for speeding and/or crazy driving at least 30 times, and I've never been asked that.

I wonder if they go fishing for a big catch sometimes.

I was pulled over for expired tags a couple weeks ago by city police. They asked for IDs for my wife and friend in the back seat. Our 2 year old was with us as well, in his car seat. We are all quite caucasian, in case anyone is wondering.

I have no idea why we were asked this, but I declined the request. We got a warning for the tags.

To check for outstanding warrants.

I guess. So what, cops are coached to ask to help fund the department? If you say "yes", they'll just confiscate it?

> If you say "yes", they'll just confiscate it?

Slightly more complicated, but not by much. It's not clear to me whether not talking versus explaining the situation would help or hurt your chances of keeping your money, but Civil Asset Forfeiture seems counter to the rest of the ideals of the US judicial system.

They need to be able to say it is "more likely than not" related to a crime. If there is a hint of weed in the air, the officer claims your pupils are slightly dilated, and they notice a lighter and a generic plastic baggie in the car, that might be enough to be able to confiscate the cash in your vehicle and the vehicle itself. The "hint of weed in the air" and "dilated pupils" are subjective and leave no physical evidence. The lighter+baggie aren't exclusive to marijuana, but they are considered paraphernalia. Also, having more than a few hundred/thousand USD cash has been considered more evidence of a crime in past cases (although I don't see how it could be).

And remember that there's probably a reason why you were approached by the officer, so they (or a prosecutor, if you've been arrested) will likely threaten you with more charges if you don't sign a waiver[1] or just lighten your charge sheet if you agree not to challenge the forfeiture.

And cash+vehicle confiscations usually happen to people driving through other states, so it's hard to get legal representation and it's usually pretty difficult to coordinate a legal case from out of state.

> When out-of-town drivers who felt victimized by a Tenaha forfeiture called local lawyers for help, their business wasn’t always welcomed. “That’d be like kicking a basket of rattlesnakes,” one defense lawyer warned a forfeiture target.[1]

Everything about Civil Asset Forfeiture has a bad smell. I wish we would just roll it back. It's a perversion of justice to allow the same government organizations who confiscate property to profit from the confiscations.

[1] https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013/08/12/taken

All true.

But there has been some progress, in recent years.

Not enough, though.

At least as of a few years ago, when police in Ohio stop you they seem to like asking you if you have any firearms in the car, just as the stop is wrapping up. I never figured that one out, either.

Depending on the state, you must inform a police officer that you are carrying a gun at the beginning of the stop. It could be a trap or a pretense to search your car.

I will respond point-by-point to your claims.

"It's a fair point, but I'm kind of getting tired of responding to it. I think that such an absolutist stance can be more harmful than helpful in some situations, and that view is backed by my anecdotal but not-insignificant experience."

If you do not admit anything, your statements cannot be used against you in court since you did not admit anything. And how do you tell in advance when your purported exculpatory statements will be helpful? Answer: you cannot. Hence you do not make statements.

"Some officers do not care about your rights or the law, and if you demand a lawyer when they ask how much cash is in the vehicle after they pull you over for doing 37 in a 35 zone, then you and your lawyer are going to spend a little while dealing with the matter."

If you are dealing with law enforcement that does not respect the law, why would you not want an attorney to present your side of the argument?

"Whereas if you give nothing away while remaining polite and courteous and aware that you are probably being lied to, you might drive off with a warning. You might still need to fall back to "am I being detained", but you might not. Sometimes you simply can't completely avoid a conversation, especially when the other party can physically compel you and make up an excuse later."

What you are describing is unlawful behaviour on the part of the law enforcement officer. A law enforcement officer cannot "compel" you to make a statement, as that would be inadmissible in a court of law as a statement made under unlawful duress.

"There is no universal good advice for such difficult and varied situations, and acting as though there is doesn't do anyone any favors."

Yes, there is under the U.S. criminal justice system. You do not make statements to law enforcement officers who are investigating a crime.

"And incidentally, the absolutist "never speak at all" part of the James Duane talk comes with the caveat, "if you are being suspected of a serious crime". The article seems to be more about officer-knocks-on-your-door or traffic stop sort of situations."

Whether it is a criminal offense or a civil wrong, e.g. a parking ticket, the same logic applies. Do not make statements to law enforcement.

I always say politely "I respectfully decline to answer questions." I never make it a machismo contest or get upset, but sometimes I have to repeat that a few times. Also super important "I decline a search of my vehicle and person as a matter of principal."

> You do not make statements to law enforcement officers who are investigating a crime.

"Do not make statements" even if these statements may help investigating officer to resolve a criminal case in your neighbourhood?

> One other thing which goes along with being polite and courteous, never lie outright to an officer. Use weasel words like, "not that I can think of" or, "I'm not sure why you would think that." That might sound suspicious at first glance, but they'll assume in the moment that just about any direct statement is a lie, anyways.

If you're thinking about clever hacks to use when you're talking to the police you're doing it wrong.

(Unless you're AL, IANAL etc.)

It's just that a certain type of officer is usually eager to catch you in a lie; it gives them leverage, and it often flusters people into saying things that they didn't mean to. You also don't want, "...and they lied to me about it" to show up in future discussions.

Ideally you would simply never speak with a police officer. But this is a stressful and unwanted situation that we're talking about, and most people (myself certainly included) aren't going to know how to assert every one of their rights that are relevant to a situation in that stressful moment. It's fairly easy to remember to avoid giving the officers anything to work with, though.

But you make a good point, I'm not a lawyer and I only speak from anecdotal experience.

Fair point. I personally think I would assert my rights as soon as I was asked a question like that, if I hadn't already. My point was basically if it occurs to you that you maybe should use some intenet advice in this encounter with a police officer that's a red flag that you should stop talking. If you get flustered and forget neither of our advice will help.

> I would assert my rights as soon as I was asked a question like that

I think everyone would like to think that they would be able to identify when the important questioning starts, but I don't think you usually notice it until you are partway through the line of questioning that the officer cares about.

Fair, although the sentence you quoted started with "I personally think I would...".

The thing is, you shouldn't be getting to the stage when you say "not that I can think of" because you shouldn't ever talk to an officer other than to answer basic questions about your name, etc.

Every time something like this comes up I'm reminded of one time I was stopped by a police officer walking down the street. I felt a tap on my shoulder, turned around and was greeted by an officer in uniform, I wracked my brain trying to remember what I'd read on the internet about talking to the police and was just about to blurt out "Am I under arrest or am I free to go officer?" When he told me: "You dropped your wallet a ways back son, here you go" and handed it to me. "Thank you officer." I said sheepishly, and went on my way.

Not to say that this isn't great advice that people should follow in general.

My rule of thumb is to treat cops the way I'd like to be treated if I was in their shoes. Which is to say, with a pleasant but firm demeanor. I don't consent to searches and I don't volunteer much of any information, but I treat them as respectfully as I'd treat any other stranger I encountered. Pleasant smiles, "have a nice day", etc. The same as I'd treat a retail worker.

My brother pulled the "AM I BEING DETAINED" routine with a cop during a traffic stop when he was 17 and it didn't go very well for him. Knowing your rights and being firm about it is important, but on the other hand you don't want to sound like a cop-hating sovereign citizen, since those of people make cops afraid and fear is not an emotion you want to encourage during interactions with the police.

What an amateur. Your brother should have told the officer his traffic stop was unconstitional, under the 1st amendment, because his driving is a form of self-expression.

I know right? He didn't even cite maritime law and claim to be 'traveling'!

Taking a step back and looking at the situation there really should be a way to "opt out" and still physically be in some part of the country. By that I mean opt out of taxes, any and all civil services, and public use things, basically everything that taxes pay for. There might have to be a zone of the country designated for this for "self sufficient community". Thinking about it Amish are already kind of this way already.

I'm not saying you should be exempt from laws but there should be some legal way to opt out of the system, as a safety valve at least.

When large groups of people congeal into one area, power heirarchies naturally emerge(power in this case being defined as the capacity to influence the behavior of others). Government is merely a codification of this power structure into (ideally) a stable system. If such an anarchist haven was made, it would most likely eventually form its own government, defeating the purpose of the anarchist haven in the first place.

I saw someone do that at a protest and the officer said "I don't see any fringed flags so why don't I take you into custody until the Supreme Court rules". Amazingly, that deescalated the whole thing...apparently scrutiny isn't something Sovereign Citizens are big on.

imagine the sovereign citizen that sets a precedent for the rest of them >even though the precedents exist and apply to all of us already

I imagine the precedent being set is all the contrived prattle the sovereign citizen folks spew (admiralty courts!) being comprehensively dismissed at one time. Be careful what you wish for.

The article recommend to start the conversation with

> Good {morning, evening}. How are you officer?

You're pretty lucky, I was held at gunpoint for a bit because I was in the vicinity of some reported gunshots many years ago. >we were just smoking weed and drinking tho and lucked out with 1/2 the cops

> "I'm going to remain silent. I'd like to see a lawyer."

On TV shows, the guy would then call his lawyer, who is under a retainer or something. The lawyer has all the context on exactly what's going on, and tells him exactly what to do, and he gets off free.

But as someone who doesn't have a lawyer, what exactly happens if and when the cop agrees to this?

Are they obligated to provide me with a lawyer? Or do I need to know one, or know how to find one? Do I need to do this while detained or do I have some time to do it?

> what exactly happens if and when the cop agrees to this?

I don't believe they are obligated to provide you with a lawyer. A court is obligated to do this; the police aren't.

The point of this advice is to make sure that you don't say anything to the police, or -- if you do -- to get it thrown out of court. Because of some bad precedent, you need to make the statement that you do not wish to answer their questions as explicit as possible. You actually don't need to request a lawyer, but doing so has some beneficial effects.

What happens?

The police may ignore your expressed desire to remain silent and continue questioning you. If you are resistant to social pressure, this doesn't matter. If you aren't, you may keep answering them. Your answers should be inadmissible in court. They may not be, based on some potential arguments by the police:

- We didn't understand that he wanted to remain silent. His wording was too confusing. (This is why the advice here tells you to use the words "remain silent".)

- We stopped the interview, but then we started another one and he spoke to us willingly.

That second point is much harder for them to argue if you expressed that you did not wish to speak to them without benefit of counsel. There is no clear line to draw between the end of one interview and the beginning of a second interview after the interviewee has had a change of heart. but it is in fact obvious to the police, even in the eyes of the court, that once you've said "I will not speak to you without the advice of a lawyer", a second interview begun before you've had the opportunity to speak to a lawyer is illegitimate.

> you need to make the statement that you do not wish to answer their questions as explicit as possible

It's also important to phrase it as a declarative sentence (including the correct inflections) and be sure of what you say. If you preface it with "maybe I should..." or "can I have a lawyer?", you are not asserting your right and police are free to continue to questioning you.

I learned all I know about the law from the internet, so it's worth what you paid me to hear it. IANAL

The ACLU's advice on this question is:

> Once you say that you want to talk to a lawyer, officers should stop asking you questions. If they continue to ask questions, you still have the right to remain silent. If you do not have a lawyer, you may still tell the officer you want to speak to one before answering questions. If you do have a lawyer, keep his or her business card with you.


In many countries the police would provide you with contact information for publicly-funded duty lawyers who can help in this emergency (assuming you are under arrest, and not just free to walk away). Sounds like in the US, it would be wise to do a bit of research and check if there are any emergency services like that in your area.

Unless you have a background in law and understand your exact rights, ask for a lawyer. Some people think this makes you look guilty. It doesn't. It makes you smart. If you don't have one, wait. Usually, you're allowed a call. Have someone in mind whom you trust to get you legal counsel.

If you, um, have something to hide, you probably want to explicitly state you're invoking your fifth amendment rights.

Y'all wait until you can find one. I don't know how that works if you can't afford one, as they're usually court ordered ie. after being charged. You don't talk and wait to be charged I guess

Anything you say after "I want a lawyer" isn't admissable in court. A smart cop would end their questioning there.

Sadly, this is not true. The police can say you were joking and some (racist) judges believe it.


I'm assuming you aren't a lawyer. Or are a really bad one.

Title should be if you get stopped in the US by the police. The US until today is not the world. In my country have been stopped by police a lot. Most of the time they are civilized. Some cases they can come over as dicks but as long as you don't escalate the situation and stay friendly nothing will happen.

THIS. In any other country that is not the US, the advice given by the article is really bad advice.

Conversely, there is no such thing as "advice given in X article is really great advice in all countries". All countries have different laws.

Whenever you read about how law is applied, put it in the correct context of the jurisdiction and time frame in which it is written.

What would be better advice for, say, most of EU?

Do what you are told. If you have nothing to hide, you will not get into trouble.

Thank you!

Main problem with this advice is, I can either assert my rights on principle, be detained, possibly held in lockup, deal with the lawyers and courts...

Or I can just let them look in my empty trunk.

I say this with full awareness of how fucked up it is, but your bet is to be white and polite.

> Or I can just let them look in my empty trunk.

There is a significant chance that if you assert your rights you will shortly be let go and if you let them search it will be a lengthy process. There is a non-zero chance that evidence is planted during a search. If you or any of your passengers (present or past) are drug users there is a non-zero chance that legitimate drug residue is in your vehicle. If you purchased your vehicle used there is a non-zero chance the previous owner left drug residue in it.

In my opinion having a police officer search a vehicle is more risky than asserting your rights.

Former cop here: You're right on the first part.

Until you realize your friend left his gym bag with weed in it in your trunk. That looks bad man, and comes back on you. My best seizures came from consent searches. I've also had cars that I've stopped where I was darn sure they were moving something in it, but I didnt have PC, and I didn't have a dog nearby that I could get in reasonable time. I asked for consent, and got told "No" in no uncertain terms. They left on their merry way, and I still wonder sometimes if a compartment full of stolen guns was in that dang car.

Sometimes we have a reason to be suspicious, sometimes were just guessing. Just to account for confirmation bias, I'd ask for consent to search completely randomly. Sometimes I got it, spent 10 seconds searching, and was done. Sometimes I didn't and said have a nice day. Sometimes I got the consent and a stolen gun and some hard narcotics

There have been a few cases where we had enough PC to search a residence, and asked for consent. Each time it was an unusual circumstance (e.g. the roomate was selling drugs or wanted or something). Each time we were in and out in 10 minutes. If we had been told to get a warrant, we would've had to detain the home owner (which in this case means hang out with him in our car or in his yard, casually talking and killing time) while we go to get a warrant.

This means driving to the magistrates office 45 minutes away, writing the affidavit, waiting in line, doing the hearing, then driving back, maybe 2-3 hours total. If during that time the homeowner goes "Hey, screw this, just search it", we won't, as we don't want it to seem like coercion. Once consent is denied, we aren't going forward without a warrant.

So again, general rule, "Dont talk to the police, assert your rights". Except when maybe you should. If you come home and your spouse is missing and blood is everywhere, you are a suspect. Heck, at the beginning, you are probably THE suspect, but you may want to talk to the cops to help them figure out where your wife went. If the cops want to look in your house for a stolen gun that your shady roommate allegedly stole, it may be BS to just search your house, or they may just want to check that 1 room, get that stolen gun, and go.

“ If you come home and your spouse is missing and blood is everywhere, you are a suspect.”

Exactly. And this is why you should retain an attorney and let the attorney communicate with the police. Suspicion usually (and rightly so) falls on the spouse or intimate partner due to likely culpability given the statistics. Don’t become a statistic yourself and countenance yourself into an unwarranted charge.

The problem is if you have bird poop on the hood, donut crumbs on the floor, your passenger was recently drywalling, or you have vitamins, breath mints, or powdered milk on you then you might end up spending the night in jail. Those are all real items that really got people arrested.


Ha, many years ago while I was playing in a punk band at a house party that was broken up by the police. Our equipment was in the house and we wanted to get it and leave, but the police weren’t letting anyone back in the house. So the rest of the band members volunteered me (the white guy) to ask the officer if we could get our equipment from the house. Well, apparently the officer was not in a good mood and told me to step the f back as he hit me with his baton across my chest. Of course the other band members laughed at me when I came back with his answer. Taught me a lesson.

> Or I can just let them look in my empty trunk.

And they proceed to literally tear apart your car with a knife, or if you're really unlucky, they plant evidence there.

Or the used car you bought 3 years ago was owned by someone who's son stashed a little bit of weed in the spare tire compartment. There's just so many things that can go wrong.

Unfortunately, where I live (Japan), asserting your rights and refusing a search is seen as probable cause. "If you were innocent you would just consent to the search" is how the thinking goes.

How does that attitude interact with article 35 of the Japanese constitution, which prohibits search and seizure without a warrant with adequate cause?

I am not a lawyer so I can't really give much of an opinion on this aspect. My layman's reading of that party of the constitution seems to suggest that searching people like this would be unlawful, but perhaps it had been judged in the past that not consenting to a search is sufficiently suspicious.

The other common tactic I have seen is when the police want someone but cannot search or arrest then straightaway they physically surround them. 4+ police officers will stand around the person in such a way as to stop them from leaving without touching an officer. If the person pushes past the police they get arrested for assault. These stand offs can last for literally hours, in which case the police will rotate it in shifts.

I don't work in a legal profession , I just happen to live on a street with lots of bars, nightclubs and a particularly active police station.

What you say may well happen like this occasionally, but I would question the police's imputed motive. At least in general.

My wife works in mental health in Japan. Nurses use this exact technique to contain potentially violent situations. Not for legal purposes, but for the safety of themselves, the patient who is surrounded and of others too.

It's pretty effective in de-escalating and does not induce force from either party.

Again, not saying this system is never abused, but in general it's safer for all parties not to up the ante in using force for the purpose of getting a faster resolution.

This is unconstitutional way of limiting movement, even by Japanese Constitution which is lax, and not allowed by statute for police operations.

Restraining movement does not require enclosure or other technical means, yet is still illegal. Police can literally stop you for a few reasons and no more.

If you literally tell the police to move away because they're illegally preventing you from moving in clear terms, if they hit you while you push through they're committing assault. Treat it like any other police brutality in court.

The first thing you have to do in this abuse of power situation is to get evidence, and by stupid Japanese law you're not allowed to take photographs of policemen I think, so get something else, like sound recording.

Suing them would be a fun pastime for someone rich, and a way to get the prosecutor to throw the case.

Of course of they really want you for something illegal, they will get you in some other way.

A very Asian mentality, this (I'm living in SE Asia). Conformity and obedience are strongly-held cultural values.

Although some people's imagination of Asia is different from geographic reality, I'll make it comprehensive by admitting that it's the same in India too. I'm sure it's the same in neighboring countries in the rest of Asia. Conformity and submission to authorities, with emphasis on (respecting) hierarchy is ingrained in people. Of course, the governments and authorities always like submissive people, and paint anyone with other views as a national threat (the latter is a global thing).

Indonesia and Thailand are slightly different though.

It matches for India, China, Japan and both Koreas.

Your trunk may well not be as empty as you think it is.

The ability for police to detain you on no evidence is slight. And your opportunities for damages increase rapidly.

I can say with absolute confidence that the ability for law enforcement to DETAIN you on less than no evidence is vastly more than slight, it’s enormous. Further, law enforcement’s ability to arrest you on ZERO evidence is extensive and it take time, money, and effort to get free and clear of the unsubstantiated charges.

Does standing up for your rights help or hurt?

That's the salient question.

I don't doubt your confidence, and, likely, experience. Only the specific strategy as outlined in this thread and article.

I would always encourage the exercise of rights, particularly against searches (as the parent mentioned). However, the refusal to search often, I hesitate to say always, but I can’t think any outstanding examples in my experience where a refusal to search did not automatically result in the search happening. And the results of that search in many cases will turn up enough ‘suspicion’ for the officer to arrest for some charge, even where actual evidence is clearly not enough.

I will certainly say that this is not universal, but refusals to search are often cited as suspicious behaviors, which then turns into more suspicious behaviors giving more reasons to continue the detention. Also, the purported difference between detention and arrest is nearly useless in practice, who feels like they are free to just get in their car and drive off.

So, the TL;DR is yes stand up for yourself and exercise your rights, but understand that in most cases in the US, if law enforcement wants to arrest you, they are going to find a reason to do so. Be smart, be safe.


I've had ... different ... experiences, though could well see others not.

Yup, these recommendations have practical issues that are rarely seriously discussed. If you assert your rights, the cops will also be the biggest jerks possible.

So on the hacker news front page today:

Colleges are closing because they're to expensive

What to do if you're stopped by police

The Top 10 books include 1984 and Fahrenheit 451

all we need is something about medical insurance sending people broke and the ever present incarceration rate.

You guys should really fix this (not an American), its not that hard.

  The Top 10 books include 1984 and Fahrenheit 451
No, the top ten books checked out in the history of the NYC Public Library include those two titles.

Fixing one's reading comprehension (or intellectual honesty) isn't that hard, either.

Thats the point you're arguing?

Knowing the top books in the NYC library is relevant and interesting information, not an endorsement of "top" books everywhere in the world.

I get what you're saying and I'm sympathetic to it— a lot of the HN user base is outside the USA. I think there should be more differentiation of USA-specific content in titles and such.

But I think the assumption of YCombinator and HN is that since so much of what is under discussion here is SV related, then readers should assume it's USA-specific unless stated otherwise.

I meant fix the US :-) not hacker news showing the content. It seems a never ending stream of news from the US of things that are fixed (mostly) in every other western democracy but not in the US. Why do I care - well the US is the largest western democracy if it keeps heading this way then it will likely spread to us.

We had an article about Debitor’s Prison existing again yesterday too.

James Duane recently updated his advice, incorrectly restated in the article and in many places in this thread, in a book entitled You Have the Right to Remain Innocent. There is a long and short of it, but I'd rather see you buy the book, so I'll just mention a few things. First, "I'd like to see a lawyer," is not nearly succinct nor strong enough, as per recent case law and Supreme Court rulings. Second, the Supreme Court has ruled that invoking the 5th Amendment can be admitted as evidence of guilt, especially if you say it wrong, as is simply remaining silent. Finally, the people in here saying to, for example, just assent to a search in order to be on their ways are hopelessly naive about the frequency of evidence planting, the potential to be misheard, misremembered, or deliberately misquoted by cops looking to get a tidy resolution to whatever messy situation confronts them. Not all of them, but enough of them and often enough that I cringe at most of the advice in this thread, much of which you (Yes, you!) personally think is great.

Buy the book. It's cheap, and an engaging quick read. Good luck to you all!

We live in a police state.

If you're not an attorney (or as well versed in law as the attorney in the video), your best bet is usually to be friendly and comply. You comply because they're allowed to lie to you, they're allowed to search you with very little reason, and they're allowed to arrest you using circumstances and behaviors that they knowingly and purposefully antagonize out of you.

And this is how freedom dies.

> We live in a police state.

I don't think that's accurate, although I've previously said it myself before on social media.

I, do, think that too many citizens and lawmakers always assume police can do no wrong and are willing to give them whatever tools they ask for, no matter the cost to freedom. I think we have too many laws on the books, far too many for any person (even for a judge or attorney) to be able to read, let alone memorize, interpret, or internalize. I think the only thing that saves every last one of us from being convicted is a scarcity of police time, but technology is likely to change part of that (digital footprints on phones, GPS devices, WiFi / bluetooth devices, SaaS security systems like Ring, cars with dashcams) and the increasing changes to grade schools (campus police officers, "zero tolerance" policies) that increase the impact of normal childish outbursts.

I have lots of problems with police tools and tactics and I will continue to use my citizen voice and vote to trim those back, but I think that we aren't a police state right now.

> And this is how freedom dies.

If we live in a police state, then freedom is already dead.

It's not clear to me if police + legislatures are taking our freedoms faster than corporate land-grabs for my digital information and psychological profiling.

Given what you just said, why would you comply? Seems better to heed the Miranda warning "Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law" and just say "I'd like to talk to an attorney first". Whether you did what you're suspected of or not, given how the deck is stacked against you, compliance seems like the wrong choice and you may very well end up making things worse for yourself.

The cop is already pretty sure you did it (or he wouldn't have brought you in), so seems like there's little you can say that will change his mind.

What you're suggesting is what I mean by compliance.

You don't have to talk to them. It's probably the one thing you shouldn't do. You should respectfully refuse to answer questions, even before the point that they arrest you and read you the Miranda warning.

But you should allow a search of your vehicle. If you don't, they're just going to call a canine unit and provoke the dog to signal, regardless of whether there's anything in your car.

You should identify yourself if requested, provide proof of ID if requested, get out of the vehicle if requested, etc. Don't make any sudden movements or reach into your pockets. And smile.

This is where we live.

> The cop is already pretty sure you did it (or he wouldn't have brought you in)

There are different stages before arrest that matter here.

There is a burden of "reasonable suspicion", "probable cause", etc. (or some equivalent like "exigent circumstances"). An arrest requires both of these, plus some evidence of a crime. Being convicted at trial requires "beyond a reasonable doubt" (for criminal charges, as opposed to {civil, tax, military}).

Letting the search happens only makes it worse. Force them to have probable cause or violate your rights. Know your basic rights and assert them. Not doing so only helps the police state.

Let them violate your rights so you can sue them.

And don't forget, in the USA, complying with requests given by a person carrying a gun and a license to kill you, is considered freely given consent that waives your rights.

"Don't Talk to the Police", the video by James Duane linked in the article, is essential viewing. It's so succinct and cogent, I end up rewatching it usually on a yearly basis because I have it saved locally.

I really appreciate something more like this, with more countries included other than USA, like: India / China / Russia

In many countries, the answers get really complicated, really quickly, and can vary based on location and other factors.

For instance in NSW Australia, you may be cautioned by police that “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you do say will be taken down and may be used in evidence against you. It may harm your defence if you fail to mention something now which you later rely on in court.” [1][2]

The impact of this is incredibly complicated, and it'll take a lawyer to fully explain it. Which, if you don't have one on hand when you're questioned - can be a major issue.

[1] http://theconversation.com/when-you-say-nothing-at-all-nsw-a... [2] https://www.news.com.au/national/breaking-news/oppn-slammed-...

The Interview is a great movie about this, with Russell Crowe and Hugo Weaving.

I'm not sure I'm following this comment.

The only movie I can find with both of those actors in it is Proof[1] from 1991, and it doesn't seem to be about anything to do with law enforcement/not speaking to police/right to silence.

[1] https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0102721/

Ah, I was confused. It was Hugo Weaving and Tony Martin.


A crash course on whether to offer a bribe, how much is customary, and the manner in which such an offering is made really ought to be included with the SkyMall magazine.

Russia: ianal and giving advices is a “bear’s service” (making it only worse for you), but I can share my knowledge on interacting with the police.

First thing is we here don’t have many guns and the status quo it’s not a crime to touch or bad manner the policeman (while not recommended, they can turn it against you easily at will). Second thing is you usually want to know what the case really is, and what they know and think in general, so “remaining silent” may play against you. How it works: you get a sudden call, “hey wruza it’s you? Uhm maybe not, who’s asking? It’s detective Borisov, can you please meet me at my office here I have questions”. That’s it. You don’t get more info over the phone and if you ignore, you may get in a unknown trouble, even if they decide to not force you later in their office (it is not a crime to not go there, but they can give you a free mandatory ride if necessary). If you ignore or “remain silent” from the doorstep, you’re simply playing a blind hand against something serious. You’re innocent until guilty, so you better collect/ensure your own evidence, since it tends to decay with time.

Fighting and resisting (injuring even slightly) the police is a crime, but chances to get shot are minuscle compared to US. Gun rules are strict for them too, and even in a dangerous situation they don’t shoot an entire fucking clip into you, as youtube usually shows for US. YT search for “Полиция застрелила” (graphic content warning). It is usually few minutes of open and/or armed aggression against a cop before he decides to pull a gun. Each shot is a hard paperwork and a risk of losing their job or freedom.

Another big difference is that documents and witnessing is everything, words are nothing. You have to be damn sure that the protocol contains your words as you said it and as they asked, not rephrased or manipulated. Having a bad memory doesn’t count as a lie or justice/investigation obstruction, but a judge may find it strange that you recall everything except that one day or event.

Most importantly, you deal with prosecutor, advocate and judge, but not a jury like in the USA, so lying to the Police has much less chance to backfire. Lying stupidly is obviously bad anyway. Lying in court, very bad.

The Mexican short film "La Graduacion" is about a newly graduated doctor shaken down on his drive to his first position:


So it's true that you're liable in the US to having your brains blown out if you try to reach for anything?

Knowing that cops carry, would you really want to risk it?

Not only do they carry guns, they are trained to automatically assume that everyone they encounter is out to kill them!

Imagine how paranoid and afraid that'd make you after a while!

Given that, it's not really surprising we have police officers killing someone who "pulled a gun" -- except that then they discover it was just a candy bar.

I've got a few friends who are police officers and I wouldn't want to do their jobs. Of course, my LEO friends are all older, smarter, and, due to experience I suppose, more "laid back".

Nowadays the first thing drilled into a new police officer's head is that "everyone wants to kill you".

something is wrong with the system if you need to be so paranoid with the policeman. it seems people are living under fear and police force in the U.S. can easily abuse their power and walk free.

Does anyone still remember the tragedy of Debian founder Ian Murdock suicided in San Francisco?

in EU or Asia, policeforce seems more approachable.

We live in a police state. We've also greatly expanded what we consider criminal, and drastically upped the punishment. The USA has some serious soul searching to do regarding morality/punishment, and basically nothing is happening on that front.

The police in Australia are far from perfect but they seem like saints compared to American police. I have interacted with them a few times and it has always been very reasonable.

They're strip searching children, so I don't know that I'd hold them up as a shining example of excellent policing.

Yes but at least they aren't shooting children. I know its a low bar to set but thats what people are discussing in this thread.

#1 - After you pull over, place your car in park, and turn it off, put your hands (both!) on the steering wheel and do not move them until the officer asks for your license.

According to lawyers I’ve spoken to in the U.K., your refusal to talk to the police is admissible as ... it’s somehow admissible in court. The prosecutor is allowed to tell a jury that it’s suspect you didn’t want to talk to the cops without a lawyer. Or something.

Can someone with know how elaborate on what exactly this means, in practical terms? What should someone do in the U.K.? Still remain silent?

Your best bet is to remain silent unless your solicitor tells you overwise. If you are arrested in the UK you have a right to legal advice from the "duty solicitor".

Your refusal to speak to police can't be the only evidence against you. Silence is not a confession. It merely means that when you're in court the prosecution may make something of the fact that you didn't say anything to the police. They may claim that your testimony is less credible than it would have been. But it's up to the jury whether or not they agree with that. It is much more important what you say in court.

On the other hand, if you do speak to the police that may well be used against you as well, indeed it may be the main evidence if you unintentionally admit to a crime that you didn't know you committed, or you may provide crucial evidence for one aspect of a crime (such as intention) that would otherwise be difficult for them to prove.

If you do say something to police, a transcript will be made and it probably will be available to the jury. They will compare what you said to the police to what you said in court. Your court date may be a long time from your police interview. So you'd better be sure you can reproduce your answers months into the future.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_silence_in_England_an... elaborates on the special rules you've alluded to, which apply in certain situations in England and Wales. Unfortunately, the answer to "what should someone do if questioned by police" is still "it depends."

The US was founded by people who felt they were oppressed in Britain. There's a handy chart at the bottom of this web page that explains the differences: https://prestonbyrne.com/2016/01/06/uk-us-comparison/

Don’t let them in without a warrant, but perhaps don’t even open the door. A friend of mine had a noise complaint called in on him. They just didn’t open the door when the cop showed up. He eventually went away. Not sure how often it works, but I found it hilarious.

These tips does not work in Hong Kong. Police can do whatever they want without any accountability. One officer even drove into a crowd of people, was put on paid leave and back at work a month after. Horrible!

Great advice. Important conversation.

Stating the obvious, I hope, but advice should vary by jurisdiction so here's the Canadian flavour of asserting rights around arrest, talking, search, etc.:


Wherever you live, please consider supporting your national or local Civil Liberties Association if you have time or money and want to keep the future as free as possible.


* Act like a normal, sensible person. Don't try to provoke them, and don't give them any reason to escalate the encounter.

* Don't allow police in your home without a warrant.

* Affirmatively deny consent for searches. This includes your home, car, and personal belongings.

* Assert your right to remain silent.

Unless you're reporting a crime where you're the victim (and, sometimes, even then), you should only talk to police with a lawyer representing you present.

How much of that is it reasonable to do as an immigrant?

Aren't police allowed too search all sorts of things with easy excuse? My refusal is a form of escalation especially since they can arrest me on whatever, then let me go, and that alone could jeopardize my immigration status (all those visa questionnaires starting with "have you ever been arrested").

Why concede your adversary any advantage.

By calmly and clearly asserting your rights, you're preserving whatever slight edge you have. All the better if there are witnesses or recordings.

Allowing searches, answering questions, fleeing, or resisting, all work against you. Stating you don't assent, clarifying that requests are orders, and complying under protest, are options.

"Good (morning|day|evening) officer" is a good starting response. It makes clear that you aren't rattled, and concedes nothing.

And no, immigrants (or minorities) don't start with a fair break. But you can keep from letting that disadvantage erode further.

Slow movements, hands in sight, etc., all help.

If you consent to the search, what's to say they don't hose you anyway?


Immigrants have most of the same constitutional rights as citizens in the US. I’m particular, the 4th and 5th amendments still apply.

Chances are that if they were going to arrest you after refusing to talk or allow them to search, they were going to arrest you anyway.

> Act like a normal, sensible person. Don't try to provoke them, and don't give them any reason to escalate the encounter.

The problem is asserting your rights and not acting like a docile thankful citizen can get treated as escalation in and of itself.

Citation needed. There are 700,000 cops in the US, some conducting 20+ traffic stops a day. How many people are being arrested because they asserted their rights? Especially in the age of smart phones and body cameras, it's pretty small. Of course it happens, no system is perfect, though we should strive to be, your rights aren't a formality. Don't flex them, exercise them. They're like muscles. Flexing is just showing off for no real purpose. Exercising them makes them stronger. Not exercising them makes them atrophy.

It's not purely about being arrested but it does happen that people get arrested just for filming.

And I'd be way more receptive to the 'a few bad apples' argument if the whole thing didn't react to any charges or investigations into those bad apples as an attack on the whole followed by at best a retirement right before they get disciplined and fired (where they usually just go work for a different department or security).


It's absolutely true and unfair that getting upset at your predicament can move used an excuse to harm you.

That's why you have to act like a sensible, docile, thankful citizen who also asserts your rights. Do not act "normal". Normal gets you hurt.

If your 'normal' is "abrasiveness asshole with a hair-trigger temper", then definitely don't act normal. If your 'normal' is "sensible and calm", then act normal.

Whether "normal gets you hurt" or "gets you a professional interaction" says more about your particular personality than anything else.

I may have erred in commiserating with the young officer attempting to extricate one neighbor's cat from another neighbor's tree? (The neighbor with the tree is a lawyer, but he's not my lawyer and he wasn't home at the time.)

The title should add [IN USA]. Also this article should contain two sections for the whites and the non whites

This article is a great damage control policy. You should be able to avoid getting screwed by following its advice.

That said, this is a complex topic and an article of that length can only cover so much. There's a lot of nuance in these kinds of things (human interaction is complex) and by behaving as the situation demands an not coming off as one of those sovereign citizen types you can turn a lot of $50 "contempt of cop while having a tail light out" tickets into warnings without giving up your rights.

Agree with most if this but not seeing any logic in telling an officer that you’ve got weapons.

Imagine you have your papers and a gun in the glovebox of your car... Opening and reaching into it maybe doens't look very safe.

This is a great additional tip, I keep my papers in a compartment on the center console rather than in the locked glovebox with the 1911 for exactly this reason.

My observation from past 10 years is that 10 years ago 1/2 cops were nice and 1/2 cops were harsh, but professional. These days 1/2 cops are nice and 1/2 cops seem to actively create troubles out of thin air. Each interaction with a mean cop was saved by what I'd call status illegibility: the cop wasn't sure whether I'm a rich connected trouble-maker or just look like one. Short conversations with some cops reminded me typical conversations with professional corporate sociopaths when you aren't sure whether the person you're talking to is a skillful sociopath who tries to get something on you or just a chatty dude. Long time ago, when I was young and naive, I got pulled over by a seemingly friendly cop who felt very chatty. I gave him way too much information because I didn't understand what was going on and gave a wrong answer to a request to search my car. What probably saved me that time was his next question about where I work. After my answer he promptly returned my DL and let me go.

Wow. This article (or other equivalent) needs to be taught in every high school.

The real question here is: why is an attorney driving an Uber?

Pray. Being stopped by American police can be a death sentence for anyone. I knew a programmer who was murdered by the same police he called to help him. His crime? Schizophrenia.


Interesting. I know devs with similar stories - though obviously with slightly different outcomes.

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