TalkLeft notes that Phoenix police are starting to fingerprint people at ordinary traffic stops (voluntarily) — [See Grits for Breakfast too]. This, along with the recent bad Supreme Court Caballes (drug sniffing dogs deciding on their own when you get searched), reminded me how important it is for everyone to understand and actively use their rights. Yes, you still have some, and the important thing is not to give them away.
One of the best ways to do this is to purchase the dvd “Busted” here or or here, or watch the free movie clips at FlexYourRights.org. It’s a very useful video
Even if you don’t, there are a few useful things to remember.
- Never volunteer information. Officer: “Do you know why I pulled you over?” You: Is there something wrong, officer?” Confession is done in church and the courtroom, not by the side of the road.
- Never consent to a search of any kind. Doesn’t matter if you’re guilty or innocent. You have the right to be secure in your person and effects (which includes your car) from unreasonable searches. If you consent to a search, you have given up that right. Be polite. Don’t interfere with what they end up doing. But never agree to a search. Even if you are the most law-abiding citizen in the world, are you absolutely sure that the last person who rode with you in your car didn’t leave something wedged somewhere underneath the seat?
- Never volunteer to get fingerprinted or take a breathalyzer test, or a DNA test, or a rectal exam, or whatever it is that they’re offering. If the question is confusing, ask if you are required to do it, and state that you don’t volunteer to do so.
- Regularly ask if you are being detained and if you are free to go. The police understand those terms and realize that you know your rights and that they either have to have some cause to detain you that they can justify, or they have to let you go.
- If the police offer to make it better for you if you cooperate, realize that it is an attempt to get you to admit to something. Suggest that you should check with a lawyer to see if their offer is appropriate. Then ask if you are being detained or if you’re free to go.
Note: This is not meant to be legal advice. And laws are different in different states and localities. But the concepts above should be valid in most situations.