Ever since I saw my friend post that he was arrested on Facebook for riding his bike in a public park, I have been reading up on how I should behave in front of police. Because, frankly, I don’t know any police officers. I don’t know how they think, how criminal law works, nor do I know the appropriate way of extracting myself from situations with them.
I do know that getting arrested can seriously mess up your life because you’ll be forever explaining to future employers, current employers, spouses/girlfriends, and your parents why you were arrested. The truth is no one cares why you were arrested; they only care that you were. “Innocent until proven guilty” doesn’t really work in real life.
The second book I finished reading was Arrest-Proof Yourself by Dale C. Carson and Wes Denham. Carson was a former police officer, former FBI officer, and currently practices criminal law. He offers a few general points:
- If cops can’t see you, they can’t arrest you
- Keep your dope at home
- Thou shalt not annoy cops during mealtimes
- Give cops your name and basic info, then shut up
Carson’s modus operandi is to offer advice to his readers that will enable them to reduce the likelihood of being arrested. He confirms that getting arrested in the US basically reduces you to second-class citizenship. Your name will be entered into the “system” and you’ll be placed on the “criminal justice plantation.”
Due to stiff prison sentences for serious offenders, serious crime in many cities is way down. Carson explains that, “The system needs you. It’s huge. It’s no small chore keeping the jails filled; government employees at work; and those tax dollars, fines, and court costs rolling in…You’re worth real money when you’re busted. For instance, if you’re arrested for a petty federal offense like making phony IDs, the state gets paid more than $150 per day by the federal government for every day you’re in custody, since the federal government does not have pretrial detention facilities, i.e. jails.”
What’s worse is that once you’ve been convicted, you lose control over your dignity.
“Even when you’re released on probation, you’re still on the plantation. You and your home can be searched at any time. You have to sign away the right to a warrant and judicial review of searches as a condition of probation. If probation officers so decide, they can administer drug tests and strip-search and body-cavity search you at any time. Probation officers are not, repeat not, social workers. They’re outdoor jailers. And you’re paying them! Big dollars monthly in probation charges! Try paying that bill flipping burgers, sweeping floors in a warehouse, or stocking shelves at Wal-Mart.”
I learned several things about American police. First, cops enjoy arresting people. Arrests seem integral to professional advancement and police like hunting for high value targets. Second, your name can enter the system even without being arrested. Every time a police officer talks to you in a street stop or when responding to a call, they must complete a Field Interrogation (FI) report that notes your name, address, appearance, what you’re wearing, and where you’re going. If a crime is reported in your area, the police then have a ready group of people to talk to.
Carson’s book is provides many tips on how to avoid catching the attention of patrol cops. Most of it is not written in a politically correct manner.
- “In Florida, felons can never work in any business licensed by the state. That means real estate, securities, health care, law, insurance…”
- “…until privacy rights are enacted into law, and the law is elaborated into rules of criminal and civil procedure, and these laws and rules are upheld by judges and enforced by government employees wearing guns, you don’t have privacy rights.”
- “The electronic plantation extends even into private civil matters. The assumption that an arrest is the same as a conviction often goes unchallenged.”
- Police are “generally immune from lawsuits…This means that you can sue the police department, or the city, but not the individual police officer as long as he or she is determined to have been operating within the scope of employment.”
- Do not be disrespectful toward police officers. This seems obvious except “When you’re upset, you’re vulnerable because your emotions are raging and you can’t think clearly. Cops will take advantage of this, intensify routine questioning, and then search you and your vehicle.” Furthermore, “assuming no serious crime has been committed, attitude determines whether you get busted” and “attitude with cops increases the number of charges, upgrade charges from misdeamenor to felony, and allows add-on charges.”
- Dirty cop tricks including inciters, e.g. “the in-your-face scream-out’, the “touchy-feely”, “provocative whispers, lewd comments, racial slurs, ethnic insults, and verbal jabs”, “the baton and flashlight poke”, “throw-down guns and dope”
- Carry ID at all times, the business card of your criminal lawyer, the business card of your friend in law enforcement
- “If you obstruct an investigation or lie to a police officer, you have committed a crime and are subject to arrest.”
- “It is often illegal to possess prescription medicines unless you also carry the written prescription with you or keep the pills in the orange plastic container, which contains the prescription on the label.”
- Carroll Doctrine: “since automobiles are inherently mobile and can easily disappear along with any evidence of a crime they contain, the owner has limited privacy rights.”
- Do not lend your car to anyone who is not a named insured on your insurance policy and who is not authorized in writing by you to drive the vehicle
- Always use gloves when searching your own car
Carson isn’t a writer but he offers a host of useful tips that should help any American avoid getting arrested. I highly recommend you to buy this book.