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As a fraternity man, you may find yourself dealing with law enforcement more often than you’d like. Knowing as much as you can about constitutional rights and legal procedure can be the best defense against getting yourself in serious trouble.
If stopped by the police, ask if you are under arrest
Most of the dumbass freshmen who get MIPs incriminate themselves when they start talking to a police officer even though they are under no obligation to do so. Don’t act suspicious, but respond with, “Good evening, officer. I’m heading home” or something similar, giving you a natural transition to asking, “Am I under arrest?” If you are not under arrest, calmly leave. It is permissible to say, “Then I would like to go home” or something like that.
If the cops think you’re just some dumb college kid or are really looking to pick a fight, they may keep pressing you. Continue asking if you are being arrested and if you can leave. Stay calm. The cops are trying to get you to fuck up, and will either A) not answer your question, or B) say “no” but continue trying to talk to you. They will often have a bright flashlight. Ignore this. Keep attempting to leave until they actually arrest you.
Try to get a record of everything
If you can get your phone to video, swipe up and start recording — but keep it hidden. You want to get as much of the audio as possible without the cops knowing. If you’ve been doing everything else right, this recording might prove that you were arrested illegally, invalidating everything that happens after that due to the “Exclusionary Rule.” If you can’t record the scene, make sure you remember as much about it as accurately as possible, and try to write it down the first chance you get. Trials can be lengthy processes, and information you gather now can be enormously helpful later.
If you are arrested, remember your rights
If you are arrested, do not resist. Remember your rights. The goal is to get acquitted on a procedural or Constitutional technicality. The ACLU has one of the best run-downs on what your immediate rights are in a stop.
You have the right to know why you are being arrested.
Ask the officer on what grounds you are being arrested. They might not answer immediately, but they will have to later in court. Keep the camera rolling, out of sight. Their case may implode later.
You have the right to refuse consent to search your shit.
Say “I do not consent to any searches.” This needs to be verbal. Do not allow them to search anything until you see written proof of a warrant. This applies to when officers come to your house as well. Do not let them in unless you see the written warrant. In addition, houses have been granted the highest level of constitutional protection from searches. When officers are at the door, make sure you meet them outside with the door firmly closed and windows masked/blinded. Any stray glance into the property can give an officer an excuse to claim probable cause.
You have the right to a lawyer.
Finally, say “I want to speak to an attorney.” Be calm and try to be reasonably polite. Just stay quiet and keep asking for a lawyer until you get one. DO NOT LIE TO THE COPS. Just keep your damn mouth shut.
You have the right to remain silent.
Immediately after asking why you are being arrested, say, “I am remaining silent,” then shut the fuck up. Nothing you say to the cops can help your case in court because it is usually considered “hearsay.” Again, I can’t stress this enough: don’t say anything to the cops and stop talking as soon as you assert your rights.
The cops are legally allowed to lie to you
Let’s just dispense any myths about the truthfulness of cops right now. They can lie to you.
Previous legal precedent has established the things cops can lie about: Physical Evidence (Oregon v. Mathiason 1977), Chemical/Polygraph Test Results (People v. Smith 2007), Having Eyewitnesses (People v. Dominick 1986), Recording Your Conversation (People v. Sims 1993, there is no such thing as “off the record”), Having a Confession from an Accomplice (US v. Santos-Garcia 2002), Literally Anything Else About Your Charges (Multiple), and they can also trick you into giving up your DNA and ignore your request for an attorney.
Remember, the cops can only arrest you. The DA charges you, but it is a judge or a jury of your peers that actually convicts you. Any lawyer worth their salt can find procedural errors that might get you off. The police think they can push you around, and that makes them sloppy (especially in college towns). Stay strong, don’t incriminate yourself, and ask for your damn lawyer. If you don’t have a lawyer, get one immediately. Even having an attorney’s business card in your wallet can drastically change an encounter with the cops.
Again, don’t talk to the cops for any reason
The video below should be mandatory viewing for every fraternity in America at least once a year:
Stay safe out there, kids..
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