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What to Do if You're Arrested
If you find yourself in the unpleasant position of being arrested, there are a few things that you need to be aware of.  Read this page carefully.  By remembering and applying these useful tips, you can dramatically increase the chances of beating your case -- or at least giving your attorney something to work with. 

1.  SHUT UP.  

This is the most important rule to remember when dealing with cops. Never volunteer information or try to explain yourself.  Do not try to negotiate your way out of trouble by telling the officer what you think he wants to hear.  Do not make up a story, cry, yell, snitch, or threaten to sue anybody, and definitely DO NOT CONFESS TO ANYTHING. 

Remember: cops are not your friends.  They are not interested in "helping you out". They are interested in taking you to jail.  Do not give them a reason.  If police have decided that they want to arrest you, there is nothing you can say to prevent them from doing so.  

If you choose to speak to the police, you are virtually guaranteed to either accidentally lie, accidentally confess to something that you didn't know was illegal, or accidentally destroy your own defense by painting yourself into a corner and limiting the options that your attorney might have used to defend you. With that in mind, SHUT UP.  

The only thing you should ever say to the police is, "I will not answer any questions without my attorney, John W. Bussman".  

2.  Be polite.  

Being polite does not mean that you should do whatever the police tell you to do (see above).  It does mean, however, that you should NICELY refuse to answer any questions other than to simply identify yourself.  

In many cases, an officer has discretion to decide whether he wants to book you into jail or to simply release you at the scene with a citation and a signed "Notice to Appear in Court". If you are polite and cooperative, you might avoid a night in jail. If you are belligerent, the police might decide that you "appear intoxicated" and that you need to be taken into custody "for your own protection". 

If you are arrested, the amount of time that you spend in jail may also depend on your attitude.  The more you yell about suing everybody, the longer you get to wait in that cell and "sober up". 

3.  Never consent to a search of your car, home, hotel room, etc.  

The 4th Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Police may search your property only when it is "reasonable" to do so.  Of course, the "reasonableness" of a search depends on many, many factors.  A search will be deemed "reasonable", however, if the suspect consented to the search.  

Defendants often consent to searches of their property because they feel intimidated by police or because they're afraid that refusing to grant consent "looks suspicious".  Refusing a search might look suspicious, but it's not illegal to look suspicious.  The stuff hidden in your car, on the other hand, might be very illegal.  

There are many "loopholes" and "exigent circumstances" that police use to justify warrantless searches of your property.  If the police are searching your property, make sure you clearly state that the search is being performed without your consent. Also make sure that police record your objection in their reports. Do not attempt to resist, but do not say or do anything that could be interpreted as giving the impression that the cops have your permission to search the property.  

If the cops find anything, your attorney may have a basis to suppress that evidence based on a violation of your 4th Amendment rights.  

If you have any questions about the legality of a search, call my office for a free consultation.   

Click here to see what the penalties are in your stateThe artist's website www.ellenforney.comClick here to download and print the NORML Freedom CardClick here for more information about your rightsJoin NORML and help stop the war on marijuana consumersClick here for a listing of lawyers by state

Click here to Download the NORML Freedom Card.  The Freedom Card contains simple instructions to follow in case you have to deal with police. Print the card out and carry it in your wallet.