"It is the death of humanity to know the price of everything but the value of nothing." ~Unknown

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

What to Do if You are Stopped By The Police.

The Civil Liberties Defense Center works to confront the attacks on our freedom and to protect the civil rights of all citizens, particularly activists exercising their constitutional rights. The Civil Liberties Defense Center is a nonprofit organization of practicing public interest attorneys and organizers focused on defending and upholding the rights of activists through education, outreach, litigation, and legal support and assistance. The CLDC was founded in January 2003. Corporations are paying for laws to be placed in federal and state statutes that blatantly violate the US and state constitutions. CLDC focuses on challenging and changing these statutes when they are used to censor and eliminate the rights of citizens engaged in political expression. The USA PATRIOT Act (actually an acronym for Uniting & Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept & Obstruct Terrorism) is the largest threat to our civil liberties in modern history. CLDC is a nationally recognized expert on the Act and is frequently requested to speak about its restrictions on our rights and the domestic implications of the US’ “war on terrorism.” In the past year, we’ve given 36 presentations about the USA PATRIOT Act to university audiences, civic groups, conferences, Republican groups, social change and environmental activists, and church groups.

There are 3 distinct categories of
police interference with a citizen’s
liberties: Conversation, Detention
and Arrest. It is important to identify
your situation so you know your
rights, and, remember, anything you
say can and will be used against you!
Stay calm and in control of your
words and actions at all times. 

• Mere Conversation - LEVEL 1
Police officers have the same right as any
other citizen to approach you and inquire
about circumstances of interest. However,
absent any reasonable suspicion that you
are involved in criminal activity, an officer
cannot detain you. 

You do not have to provide identification
to an officer at this level unless you are in a
motor vehicle. 

You do not have to answer any questions.
Determine if you are in a Level 1 situation by
asking if you are free to leave. 

• Detention - LEVEL 2
If an officer reasonably suspects you have
been involved in a crime, they may detain
you for questioning. You may invoke your 5th
amendment rights and remain silent. You
must provide identification upon request at this
level (name, address, d.o.b.). You do not need
to provide your social security number.
Giving a false name is a criminal offense.
You do not have to consent to a search.
However, if the police have probable cause or
a warrant your consent is not required.
If the police say they have a warrant, ask
to see it.
Police may pat down your clothing if
they have a reasonable suspicion that you
are carrying a concealed weapon; do not
physically resist but make it clear that you
do not consent to any further search.
What you choose to say to the police is
important—it can be used against you later
and can provide the police with probable cause
to arrest you. 

Don’t run away even if you believe what is
happening to you is unreasonable or unlawful;
this may lead to your arrest. 

Remember officers names and badge
numbers and write down everything about
the incident as soon as possible. 

• Arrest - LEVEL 3
You have the right to remain silent—wait
for your attorney before saying anything. 

Ask for an attorney immediately upon
being taken into custody.
If you refuse to provide a name and address
while in custody, you will not be eligible for
release or a court appointed attorney in most
Within a reasonable time, the police must
allow you to make a phone call to your
attorney and they may not legally listen to
that call—but assume that they will. 

Do not talk to fellow arrestees regarding
the circumstances of the arrest—you never
know who might be listening.
You must be provided adequate medical care
while in custody. If you are on medication,
inform the jail of that fact immediately and
If you have dietary restrictions for health or
religious reasons, the jail may be required to
provide you with alternative meals. Inform
the jail of your dietary needs as soon as you
arrive. If the jail fails to accommodate those
needs, begin the grievance process immediately. 

What Happens Next?
Take photographs of any injuries right
away. Get medical attention and copies of the
medical reports. 

Either while in custody, or shortly upon your
release, you will be required to appear in court
for an arraignment hearing. 

Plead NOT GUILTY to all charges. Apply
for a court appointed attorney if you so choose.
You will receive a future court date to appear. 

Make contact with your attorney as soon
as possible. It is your responsibility to
remain in contact with your attorney, this
may be frustrating, but will be essential to your

If you remain in custody, you have a right to
a jury trial within 60 days in Oregon, or within
30 days in California.
If you choose to go to trial, it may be your
responsibility to locate and secure witnesses on
your behalf. 

If you are found guilty at trial, or elect
to plead guilty, you are allowed to delay
sentencing at least 48 hours. At the sentencing
hearing, you may be ordered to serve jail time,
so be prepared to report to jail immediately.

Civil Liberties
Defense Center

The Civil Liberties Defense Center
works to confront the attacks
on our freedom and to protect
the civil rights of all citizens,
particularly activists exercising
their constitutional rights.

"Injustice anywhere is a
threat to justice everywhere."

                                ~Martin Luther King, Jr. Letter From Birmingham Jail, 4/16/63

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