Don’t trust the police

I tell people time and time again, don’t talk to the cops. If an officer has pulled you over, or has terry stopped you, or otherwise has you detained, you two are not friends. That cop is not there to help you. Giving him more information than what is legally required of you – usually just your name and address – will only help his record look a little better when his annual review comes around.

But people don’t want to believe me. When online I can just point them to my post advising them not to talk to the cops, but I don’t have that luxury in person. It’s frustrating. Everyone believes they can talk their way out of any situation. “B-but if I just get a chance to tell my side of the story, I’ll be fine!” No, you won’t. Remember when ex-politician and current beautiful hair model Rod Blagojevich had close to two dozen charges against him? He was showboating and proclaiming about his day in court. Boy was he going to show the government what was what! And then the government put on a terrible case, failing to prove Blagojevich guilty of almost everything. Needless to say, the man didn’t take the stand – it doesn’t pay to say more than what must be said. But he was found guilty of one count: lying to the FBI. He had made the mistake of talking to agents before his lawyers could get him to shut the hell up.

Which brings me to an excellent article from the law blog Popehat:

Is there ever a situation where, by being friendly and cooperative and answering questions, you can deflect government suspicion or satisfy their concerns without charges? Yes. Very rarely, there is. And when the government comes knocking, they count on you grasping at the hope that this is one of those times. Don’t be a fool. If there’s a chance that cooperation will satisfy the authorities today, there will still be a chance in a day or a week or a month after you’ve consulted a lawyer who understands the situation. When you answer law enforcements’ questions — especially when you do it in a stressful situation like a search — you take grave risks of substantially worsening your situation.

Read the entire post and it’s obvious the given scenario is one most of us will never experience. But that isn’t the point. The most law-abiding among us is plenty likely to encounter a cop that wants to ask us questions. And most of us would probably answer everything plenty blindly. But don’t. That cop is not your friend, he doesn’t want to help you, and it will not benefit you to talk to him.

But maybe you’re worried about looking guilty. If you don’t talk, that will only raise suspicions, right? Maybe. But how many prosecutors have given the closing statement, “And so the defendant was silent when questioned. I think you know what that means. I rest my case.”?

Keep your mouth shut.

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61 Responses

  1. Thanks for the link!

    Not to be a nit-picker — well, actually, as a lawyer I’m a professional nit-picker. Anyway, a prosecutor isn’t allowed to close like that — they can’t refer to your decision t remain silent. All the more reason to be quiet!

  2. You have a deep mistrust of the police and are also against a individual right to posses firearms (for self defense at the very least) who do you think has the responsibility and your trust to protect you?

    Not to mention Supreme Court rulings making it clear that the government has no duty to protect individuals in situations of life and death. That’s right, the police are not legally responsible for protecting you at all.

    I know its a bit off subject, but i just find the two positions curious.

  3. Not to be a nit-picker — well, actually, as a lawyer I’m a professional nit-picker. Anyway, a prosecutor isn’t allowed to close like that — they can’t refer to your decision t remain silent. All the more reason to be quiet!

    Well, as a Law & Order fan, I say they can.

    Seriously though, thanks for the info and good point.

  4. Nate – I’m not against the right to own firearms. I favor restrictions on ridiculous guns that serve no reasonable purposes for defense or hunting, and I think background checks and waiting periods are smart ideas, but I favor the right to own a firearm.

  5. My mistake. I doubt waiting periods help much of anything but background checks are fine, even the NRA says so.

    I was sure you had made the case before that you believed the second amendment to refer only to the militia and not to individuals, clearly is am mistaken.

  6. I don’t believe the Second Amendment gets us to all the gun rights we have. If it did, we could all have nuclear arms.

    http://forthesakeofscience.com/2011/04/21/the-second-amendment/

  7. I’ve never heard anyone claim a right to possess any kind of explosives, but I feel that there is little danger from allowing just about any firearm to be purchased. Currently if you really wanted an automatic weapon, and intend to commit crimes with it, you could get one easy enough. People like me who would like to have one for the devastation it would cause to an empty propane tank can’t have one though.

    Even with strict guns laws in Europe, they still have bunches of shootings.

  8. Even with strict guns laws in Europe, they still have bunches of shootings.

    Prove that statement with evidence. Show us all how the crimes committed in Europe are at the same rate as the US. Show us, please.

  9. Ken expanded on the shut up when the police ask question idea with an older post I also recommend.

    If you have decided not to take my advice to SHUT UP, you are probably eager to please and will strain to answer questions, even if it means guessing at things you don’t know or don’t remember. Especially if the questions are complicated — for instance, about a financial transaction — you need to go over the details and any physical evidence to remember exactly what happened. So even if you are trying to be completely honest, if you go into this interview without careful preparation, there is an excellent chance that you will get a key fact wrong through bad memory or nerves. Later, if you remember the right answer, the cops will say you are “changing your story around.”

    Nate, I share your desire to empty a 30 round magazine in my own backyard, I think the real problem with the European gun ban is the epidemic of “knife crime” it has created, but there are arguments for owning-explosive based arms, such as Reason.com cartoonist Peter Bagge’s excellent comic-essay The Right To Own A Bazooka. If you have an opinion on gun control, then you owe it to yourself to give it a read.

  10. Bob I didn’t say they have gun crimes at the same rate, now did I? I said they still had bunches of gun crimes, that hasn’t stopped. I’d like to point out that the violent crime rate in most European countries were already low before their ridiculously strict imposition of gun control. My my how effective.

    Anyway Bob, gun control hasn’t stopped the worst school shootings in the world from happening in Europe. I don’t need to provide links for those I hope, you should remember the big ones, since they happen several times a year and always make the news.

    Michael does make a point about knife crime too. You are much more likely to face things such as muggings in England for example, that you are here. We of course cannot know why, but we can suppose that with the likelihood of being shot while trying to mug someone being 42,526.2 times higher here than there, I can assume.

  11. Bob I didn’t say they have gun crimes at the same rate, now did I? I said they still had bunches of gun crimes, that hasn’t stopped

    then why bring it up if it 42,000 times more likely here than Europe. The dozen bad shootings in Europe each year is irrelevant to the thread.

  12. There are many many more than a dozen bad shooting shootings. You misunderstood my exaggerated “42,526.2” What I was meaning is some kinds of violent crime are much less likely here the in Europe. One of the reasons is surely because, as a criminal committing violent crime, you are far more likely to be killed attempting it here than in Europe.

    Since we don’t practice victim disarmament and Europe does, being a mugger is a pretty safe past time in Europe.

  13. The idea that you need guns to protect yourself from a rogue government is what fuels my belief in personal gun ownership. RPG’s and anti-aircraft missiles are also going to be necessary to protect your home since the government has same. Wash, rinse, repeat…..I need nukes to fight the government with nukes. Since that’s not gonna happen, the only real response we’d have against the government going off on us would be what the Taliban are doing.

    I’ve been assured by my gun loving friends that an assault rifle is all you need to destabilize an invading force of much greater strength (see Taliban example) if you’re willing to adopt the same tactics.

    Compared to America, there is no crime in Europe.

    Enjoy.

  14. The last statement isn’t nearly correct. Considering the vast number of cultures all mixed together in America, even varying from one part of a city to another, I think our crime rates are pretty respectable.

    While crime is on the rise in Europe as it becomes more diverse, it has historically been lower than the US, even before their severe gun restrictions.

    Basically, I don’t think you can compare one to the other effectively. You can do some on some level, but the types of crimes committed in large numbers there are different from the ones committed here. Less murder, more riots, less criminal shootings, more of other types of violent crime. That’s only in some parts, in others its completely different.

    Guns don’t cause crime and banning them doesn’t prevent it.

  15. The recent death of Bin Laden raised the issue of “interrogation techniques” once again, and one law-enforcement analyst made this point:

    “The purpose of questioning a suspect is not to determine their guilt or innocence; it’s not to get their side of the story; and it’s not to establish the facts of the case. The PURPOSE is to get you to CONFESS. Period. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re there to ‘help the authorities with their inquiries;’ you’re the suspect, and you’re presumed guilty every time you open your mouth.”

    Anyone taken into custody should always keep that foremost in their minds.

  16. If everyone believed that, that they would rarely solve any case.

  17. If everyone believed that, that they would rarely solve any case.

    That is because many criminals are not very bright. Even Whitey Bulger is talking his head off and not getting anything for doing it.

  18. or it could be “trust your self and trust no body”..

  19. “If everyone believed that, that they would rarely solve any case.”

    You say that like it should be a consideration for someone in custody. It shouldn’t. Helping the authorities solve cases isn’t my problem, my responsibility, or even my concern.

  20. That’s true, Just like helping the poor isn’t anyone’s responsibility but their own. Correct?

  21. Blago was just convicted of 17 of 20 counts. He got his comeuppance

  22. Nice attempted libertarian dodge, but a person in custody is in a markedly different situation from a regular citizen in everyday society.

  23. How? I would expect that the person who is in custody of the government acting on your behalf would be more worthy of your assistance, or at least interest, than someone who, through no fault or doing of yours has little money.

  24. To mention Blago again, rumor has it he doesn’t know how to use technology. Presumably because he has never had to do anything himself.

    Skip to around minute 5ish.

  25. A person in custody of the authorities is not being held by those “acting on his behalf,” obviously. I know you’re stretching hard to draw a parallel between wrongful arrest and taxation, but it simply doesn’t work.

    A person being taxed is not being treated unjustly by the government, no matter how many libertards cry “taxation is theft!”

  26. Ok buddy, whatever the little chip the democrats put in your head gives you for talking points.

  27. See that? Whenever Negative, Nasty Nate is losing an argument, he goes right in for nonsense personal attacks. Every time. You can bet money on it.

  28. See that? Bob always imagines these “nate is losing something” scenarios. Do you just think I should go on forever with a guy that just assumes I’m talking about taxation, (I haven’t been, never even mentioned it) why bother to waste my time? He’s launched into a liberal talking point, I don’t have anything more to say.

    I’d just like to point out that when you start actually losing an argument, you just kind of disappear for a few days, I assume so that you can sulk.

  29. Wouldn’t know. I have never lost an argument with you. How could I? Libertarianism has never won an argument. I just leave when you have been made to look the fool and turn to personal attacks.

  30. Another retreat into rhetoric. Actually you retreat when I return yours. You have always seemed to be too blind to recognize your own attacks, but inventive when recognizing the ‘attacks’ of others. Must be something about senility.

  31. Yes, tell us more about your senility. You are the one who always attacks first. There are dozens of examples that show you to be lying. I guess that is how right wing liberturdians operate. Lie, then accuse others of your sickening tactics.

  32. I’m not the old confused one.

    Are we done?

  33. You never even started. Your political views are those of 90 year olds. You are certainly the confused one.

  34. Okay Bob. Why don’t you go grease your walker.

  35. I work out 8 hours a week, minimum. I could probably wipe the floor with you and not even breath hard. After all, you are the sick decrepit one. (that doesn’t even include your mental degeneration)

  36. You should probably get some new tennis balls for that walker also. Needs more grease too, I can still hear it squeaking.

  37. Get some new gloves, Nate, to replace those that you wore out masturbating all day and night since you don’t get along with real people. You must be so lonely due to your nastiness and negativity, a crotchety old dried up thing that is you.

  38. Squeak… squeak… squeak…

  39. That squeak you hear is from the blowjob your priest is giving you. He should be doing last rites, since you are brain dead, but that is how they operate.

  40. Squeak… Squeak…

  41. It must rip you apart, Nasty, that absolutely no one takes your side on posts here. Maintaining a right wing Liberturdian stance must be exhausting. Your hero, Michelle Bachmann was exposed by showing that 18 out of 26 statements of hers were either false statements or outright fabricated lies. The general public is catching on to these right wing staples of disgusting behavior.

  42. I’m beginning to think the squeak is not coming from your walker, but from you yourself. Yes, it sounds like pitiful attempts to get a rise out of me.

  43. I see how articulate you have become, Nasty, Negative, liberturdian, Nate. You just stick your head up your own butt. Keep on squeaking.

  44. Squeak…

  45. Are you done? Let off all of your frustration?

  46. Still have that priest’s cock in your mouth? Sorry, can’t understand you that way.

    The funny thing is that you think your feeble attempt at ageism bothers me at all. I am just having fun blowing the doors off your miserable attempts at comments.

  47. Of course, you never defend anything once you have been exposed as spewing nonsense. You just hide behind words like rhetoric as you spew rhetoric by the truckload. You also need your guns to feel safe. It is just compensation for your lack of sexual adequacy.

  48. Of course it is a feeble attempt, I don’t really believe in ageism. Your feeble and disgusting attempts to insult me are really whats amusing. All that foot stamping for what?

    You have never, “blown the doors” off of anything I’ve said. Bob, you rarely even make a comment other than the type you have been making for the last hour or so. What exactly is that evidence of? How does that blow the doors off of anything other than the notion that you are an adult?

  49. See? You don’t even know anything about me, that somewhat reduces the effect and legitimacy of insults. At least I know you’re ‘old’.

  50. Your ageism is just another form of racism which you right wingnuts are famous for. Such is life on the right.

  51. Ooooook Bob.

  52. Just look back at this thread and every other one where you are always the first TP mount personal attacks. Just like Bachmann, you lie.

  53. Oooooook Bob.

  54. You never COULD handle facts. You shy away from them.

  55. I see the priest still has you occupied

  56. Oooooook Bob. This kind of hatred is completely fine though right? But the imaginary hatred I am guilty of is awful.

  57. I guess you WOULD get it all backwards when your head is up your own ass. You are the one who hates everyone. Totally negative. Just me, me, me, mine, mine, mine, all the time.

    I will expose your tactics every post where you attack people instead of issues. I will do it for years if necessary until people like you are laughed off the face of the earth for your behavior.

  58. Ooooooook Bob.

  59. .

  60. […] is all very disturbing. As Ken of Popehat tells us, a prosecutor cannot mention a defendant’s decision to remain silent. If we allowed the authorities to get away with such garbage – and we do now – then the […]

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