Anything you say and do will be used against you in the court of law.
Remember that saying? It’s probably something that was said AFTER you had blabbed to the police and got yourself “locked up” for no apparent reason. While America is a great country filled with opportunity, it doesn’t mean that it comes without its own caveats when navigating around our police force.
Unfortunately, while this is the land of freedom, the cops don’t always want you to remember that. It makes their jobs much, much harder. It’s like a game of Clue, and you have Col. Mustard sitting there in a chair, sweaty, scared, and nervous. Of course it’s easier if you can ask the man himself, with total freedom and control. There’s no waiting your turn in real life. So listed below are my Top 5 Rules When Talking to Cops.
1. Be Polite: Everyone hates a dick. Cops are people too, so acting like a complete moronic asshole to him will not help your situation. It’s great to exercise your rights in this country, but flailing around and screaming like a lunatic gives the police enough probable cause to actually arrest you. There’s a law against disrupting the public, so just be a nice guy. If you don’t believe me watch the compilation below:
2. Cops are not your friend. They won’t go easier on you: While police’s main objective is to “protect and serve,” in America, this has transformed into “give them a citation or send them to prison by any means necessary.” I’m not really sure how to stop it, but needless to say every cop will tell you it’s easier if you cooperate. And he speaks the truth, when he says it’ll be easier; he simply means, it will be easier for me, to send you, to jail.
3. Remember these lines : “I respectfully decline to answer any questions.” You CAN and SHOULD say this if you have been stopped by the police, especially if they have no probable cause to do so. In America we don’t live in a police state, so you are not required by law to answer any questions according to the 5th amendment. What this means is that if you are pulled over with no probable cause of a crime, then there is no investigation since there is no probable cause that a crime was ever committed. It is well with in your right as a citizen of the U.S. to refuse to answer a police officers question with out probable cause, and remaining silent is not a crime. Note: you must identify yourself to police officers when they question you, but a first name will suffice. Beyond that you don’t need to answer any questions.
4. Remember these lines: “Am I being detained or am I free to go?” Again, this comes into the whole idea of being a free person. The police can not detain you unlawfully. This is actually kidnapping. This line determines whether police are detaining you for an investigation surrounding a crime you’ve committed, or if they are freely questioning you. Remember all the times in Law and Order where the criminal just walks away, refusing to talk to the detectives? Yeah, that’s an actual thing and applies to street cops as well. Unless they have a reason to detain you, they cannot hold you in one place. You are free to go. It sounds like total bull but this video goes to prove that if you stand up for your rights and ask the right questions, cops can’t do anything to you.
5. Film Everything: Filming is not against the law, in some states recording audio with out telling someone is, so learn to navigate that. But when you are pulled over by the cops, it’s important that you document everything. Remember, they are civil servant–they serve us, therefore they should be held accountable for their actions. If you are scared they may smash your phone as a result, there’s nifty apps that allows video to automatically be uploaded to a cloud.
At any rate, remember your rights, and remember that you’re not obligated to talk to cops, but they are obligated to serve you.