10 Rules for Dealing with Police

2012, Society  -  38 min Leave a Comment
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Billy Murphy talks about how to deal with the police. He's been a judge, but he's best known as a criminal defence lawyer. He knows how the law works and he knows that for many people the law sometimes doesn't work. He's going to show you how to make the law work for you. The choices you make can have a massive impact on the outcomes of your police encounters, even if, and especially if, you've done nothing wrong.

There are lots of good police officers out there doing what needs to be done and there are also few too many cops who don't respect the basic rights of innocent people. But you don't get to chose who you're dealing with. And even the nicest cop will use your mistakes against you. That's precisely why every citizen must possess the tools to confidently assert their rights if they have to.

Don't ever talk back, don't ever raise your voice and don't ever use profanity with the police officer. Being hostile with the police is stupid and dangerous. Police have a dangerous job. Even the most professional officers might become aggressive if they feel threatened or if their authority is challenged. Always control your words, the tone of your voice and your body language.

During a police encounter, the smartest way to take the Fifth is just to keep your mouth shut, because you always have to right to remain silent. If the police interrogate, or arrest you, asking for a lawyer is a good way to assert your right to remain silent. It's up to you to make sure that you understand the law and make smart choices.

If police flag you down, pull over immediately, turn off your car and place your hands on the wheel. The police like to see your hands for their own safety so wait until they request your paperwork before reaching for it. At night it's also a good idea to turn on the interior light so that the officer can see you're not armed.

You have the right to refuse searches. This comes directly from the Fourth Amendment. For your Fourth Amendment protection to legally apply you must be prepared to clearly state your refusal under pressure. Never tell the officer you know your rights, show the officer you know your rights by asserting them calmly.

Police may legally order you out of your vehicle so you should comply. Be aware that the police may legally lie to you so never let false threats and promises trick you into waiving your rights. Refusing the search request is not evidence of guilt and doesn't give the officer the legal right to search or detain you. Don't get tricked.

Unless you're detained or arrested you may terminate the encounter at any time, but don't wait for the officer to dismiss you. Simply ask if you're free to go. Saying you want to leave establishes that the encounter is not voluntary which could help you later if you end up in court.