Talking to the police will not help you

I was recently having a discussion with someone about the 5th Amendment and I thought I would throw an old post up here. This may be the third time I’ve posted it, but the central point is a good one: Speaking with the police always has the potential of getting you in trouble. It doesn’t matter if you’re innocent, guilty, or even sometimes the victim. (Bio just ran an interesting piece about battered women and their spouses, including John and Lorena Bobbitt; John, despite being the primary victim, was placed on trial with scant evidence against him.) The police provide a valuable service, but it is important to know one’s rights when interacting with them. Remember, except in particular trial and trial-related circumstances, you never have to speak with someone from the government. Approached by them in your home? On the street? In your car? After being arrested? Invoke your right to silence. Always. Read this post for more information:


I’ve posted this before, but I think it’s worth repeating. I’ve actually read a few local stories where the police had limited leads, thought maybe they had the right suspect, but then someone threw magic fairy dust all over the place and the person just confessed. That’s all sunshine and flowers for those of us who abide by the law, but I hate the reason guilty people do it: police trick them into believing it is in their best interest to do so. That is rarely, if ever, the case. The police are not looking to help out those they suspect of crimes. That isn’t their job. And don’t think to yourself, ‘Oh, I’m innocent. Where’s the harm?’ You can still get screwed.

Unless your reason is that you need help, it isn’t worth the risk to talk to the police. If they come to you for whatever reason, turn them away (unless a loved one is injured or some similar incident, obviously). Don’t fill out or sign any affidavits, don’t tell them where you’ve been or where you’re going, and if you can avoid doing so, don’t even tell them who you are. (For my fellow Mainers, you have to give them your name and address during any traffic or terry stop, and if you’re trespassing, you have to tell them why you’re there. Only give out minimal information. The laws for every state can be found here.) UPDATE: Upon further investigation, it appears that Maine does not have any Stop and Identify statutes that require citizens to tell the police anything during a Terry Stop or casual conversation. Twenty-four states do, including nearby New Hampshire. I recommend independent research by those interested in the specifics of all this.

But for most of us, the situation isn’t going to be so significant as to require a lot of legal forethought like what’s in James Duane’s video above. Instead, most people are going to interact with police officers during traffic stops. There’s a way to handle those, too.

(Keep annotations on.)

There’s a longer version to that video where the kids actually had pot in their car, so they had good reason to be assertive in order to avoid a search. This may not be the best way for everyone to handle being pulled over. Sometimes there isn’t anything to hide, so asserting one’s rights is a good way to end up paying a $200 fine (like those kids) because the cop prefers his citizens friendly. But then there are times when it only seems like there isn’t anything to hide. Fast forward to the 22 minute point of this next video.

That video contains the entire clip with the first group of kids, but it’s the second kid who matters for this point. He may well have been innocent, but the fact that he allowed the police unnecessary access to his property got him in trouble. Keep watching for when he handles the situation correctly, giving minimal information. The police don’t need to know what they claim they should know.

Don’t talk to the cops.

Flashing your headlights to warn of speed traps is free speech

This is wonderful:

A judge ruled Tuesday that a man who flashed his headlights to warn drivers of a nearby police speed trap was exercising his right to free speech, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Ryan Kintner, 25, of Lake Mary, Florida, was ticketed last August in Seminole County for what police said was a violation of a state traffic law that outlined appropriate headlight use.

Kintner contested the ticket and sued the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office for violating his civil rights, reported the Sentinel.

The circuit judge hearing the case ruled last October that using headlights for communication didn’t fall under the state law.

After a second hearing, the judge took his ruling a step further Tuesday, saying Kintner was protected by his constitutional right to free speech under the First Amendment.

What makes this even better is that Kintner wasn’t merely driving down the road when he saw the cop. He was sitting at home, saw the cop park and pull out a radar gun. He then got in his car, drove a few blocks ahead, and sat there flashing his headlights at oncoming traffic. I’ve always wanted to do something like that. I admire Kintner for his follow-through. Not only did he stick it to ‘the man’, but his actions made sense from a safety standpoint anyway:

At an earlier hearing Circuit Judge Alan Dickey said, “If the goal of the traffic law is promote safety and not to raise revenue, then why wouldn’t we want everyone who sees a law enforcement officer with a radar gun in his hand, blinking his lights to slow down all those other cars?” reported The Crime Report.

Idiot cops

I hope these cops do nothing but talk, talk, talk and dig themselves the severest of holes while in court:

Dayton police “mistook” a mentally handicapped teenager’s speech impediment for “disrespect,” so they Tasered, pepper-sprayed and beat him and called for backup from “upward of 20 police officers” after the boy rode his bicycle home to ask his mother for help, the boy’s mom says.

Pamela Ford says her “mentally challenged/handicapped” son Jesse Kersey, 17, was riding his bike near his Dayton home when Officer Willie Hooper stopped him and tried to talk to him.

The mom says that “Prior to the incident described below, defendant Hooper knew Jesse and was aware that Jesse was mentally challenged/handicapped and a minor child.”