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Tips When Dealing With Police

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So you have been arrested, what now? For starters, it's important to understand the process. Unless you have comitted a felony, ran from the police, are intoxicated, or your crime was violent in nature, odds are, you're not going to spend the next year or so in jail, at least not yet. Being arrested simply means that you have broken a criminal or traffic law and you are being served your court notice in person and going before a judge, comissioner, or magistrate to see if you should be released, and if so, what will it cost, if anything. So dont worry about pleading your case. Don't stress out thinking you'll never see the light of day. Try to remember you just have to go get your fingerprints done and a mug shot taken. You are going to get your paper work and a court date. That's pretty much all there is to it. You're not going to the big house, you're not going to be forced to join a gang or fight for your life.


What to do if you have been arrested

  1. Remain Silent. Don't give any explinations or excuses.
  2. Do not resist arrest. Doing so will only compound your charges. However, the supreme court ruled that you have the right to defend yourself against wrongful arrest even if it requires taking the officers life. See below
  3. You have the right to a lawyer. Do not sign anything, say anything, or agree to anything, or make any decisions without a lawyer present. These are precious moments that you can't get a redo for, so dont mess this moment up.
  4. You have the right to make a local phone call. The police will and can listen to your call. Police may NOT listen to your call if it's to your lawyer.

What to do before you get arrested

  1. Have a plan in the event you are arrested. We don't plan on getting arrested and most of us don't think we'll ever be arrested, but when the time comes, it's better to be prepared.
  2. Memorize Important Phone Numbers. Commit to memory, your attorney's number, a bail bondsman, your family, a few close dependable ride or die friends.

Your Right of Defense Against Unlawful Arrest

“Citizens may resist unlawful arrest to the point of taking an arresting officer's life if necessary.” Plummer v. State, 136 Ind. 306. This premise was upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States in the case: John Bad Elk v. U.S., 177 U.S. 529. The Court stated: “Where the officer is killed in the course of the disorder which naturally accompanies an attempted arrest that is resisted, the law looks with very different eyes upon the transaction, when the officer had the right to make the arrest, from what it does if the officer had no right. What may be murder in the first case might be nothing more than manslaughter in the other, or the facts might show that no offense had been committed.”

“An arrest made with a defective warrant, or one issued without affidavit, or one that fails to allege a crime is within jurisdiction, and one who is being arrested, may resist arrest and break away. lf the arresting officer is killed by one who is so resisting, the killing will be no more than an involuntary manslaughter.” Housh v. People, 75 111. 491; reaffirmed and quoted in State v. Leach, 7 Conn. 452; State v. Gleason, 32 Kan. 245; Ballard v. State, 43 Ohio 349; State v Rousseau, 241 P. 2d 447; State v. Spaulding, 34 Minn. 3621.

“When a person, being without fault, is in a place where he has a right to be, is violently assaulted, he may, without retreating, repel by force, and if, in the reasonable exercise of his right of self defense, his assailant is killed, he is justified.” Runyan v. State, 57 Ind. 80; Miller v. State, 74 Ind. 1.

“These principles apply as well to an officer attempting to make an arrest, who abuses his authority and transcends the bounds thereof by the use of unnecessary force and violence, as they do to a private individual who unlawfully uses such force and violence.” Jones v. State, 26 Tex. App. I; Beaverts v. State, 4 Tex. App. 1 75; Skidmore v. State, 43 Tex. 93, 903.

“An illegal arrest is an assault and battery. The person so attempted to be restrained of his liberty has the same right to use force in defending himself as he would in repelling any other assault and battery.” (State v. Robinson, 145 ME. 77, 72 ATL. 260).

“Each person has the right to resist an unlawful arrest. In such a case, the person attempting the arrest stands in the position of a wrongdoer and may be resisted by the use of force, as in self- defense.” (State v. Mobley, 240 N.C. 476, 83 S.E. 2d 100).

“One may come to the aid of another being unlawfully arrested, just as he may where one is being assaulted, molested, raped or kidnapped. Thus it is not an offense to liberate one from the unlawful custody of an officer, even though he may have submitted to such custody, without resistance.” (Adams v. State, 121 Ga. 16, 48 S.E. 910).

“Story affirmed the right of self-defense by persons held illegally. In his own writings, he had admitted that ‘a situation could arise in which the checks-and-balances principle ceased to work and the various branches of government concurred in a gross usurpation.’ There would be no usual remedy by changing the law or passing an amendment to the Constitution, should the oppressed party be a minority. Story concluded, ‘If there be any remedy at all ... it is a remedy never provided for by human institutions.’ That was the ‘ultimate right of all human beings in extreme cases to resist oppression, and to apply force against ruinous injustice.’” (From Mutiny on the Amistad by Howard Jones, Oxford University Press, 1987, an account of the reading of the decision in the case by Justice Joseph Story of the Supreme Court.

As for grounds for arrest: “The carrying of arms in a quiet, peaceable, and orderly manner, concealed on or about the person, is not a breach of the peace. Nor does such an act of itself, lead to a breach of the peace.” (Wharton’s Criminal and Civil Procedure, 12th Ed., Vol.2: Judy v. Lashley, 5 W. Va. 628, 41 S.E. 197).

You are also within your rights not to answer any questions without a lawyer present, and if possible, to demand a video recording be made of the entire encounter that you or your lawyer keep as evidence, so that federal prosecutors can't get away with charging you with making false statements to a government investigator and testilying about what you said. See this article.


As a practical matter one should try to avoid relying on the above in an actual confrontation with law enforcement agents, who are likely not to know or care about any of it. Some recent courts have refused to follow these principles, and grand juries, controlled by prosecutors, have refused to indict officers who killed innocent people claiming the subject "resisted" or "looked like he might have a gun". Once dedicated to "protect and serve", far too many law enforcement officers have become brutal, lawless occupying military forces.

See also:

  1. False arrest — Wikipedia article
  2. The Common-Law Right to Resist, by "ExCop-LawStudent", May 5, 2013 — Makes some valid criticisms of the above article. He is correct that recent precedents and statutes do not support resistance to unlawful arrest, except where excessive force is used, but we regard those to themselves be unconstitutional, and thus null and void, as a matter of principle. Of course, people need to be aware that constitutional principle is not the practice in courts today, and perhaps be prudent about that.
  3. The Right to Forcefully Resist Unlawful ArrestJohn-Henry Hill, September 30, 2013.
  4. The Right to Resist Unlawful Arrest, [No author shown], Natural Resources Journal, Jan. 1967.
  5. When the Right to Resist Becomes the "Duty to Submit", William N. Grigg, Pro Libertate, January 10, 2012

Lastly, always film the police. Check the next portion for tips and rights involved in filming the police.

Filming The Police

YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO FILM THE POLICE - In all 50 states except Illinois, you have the right to film the police during the course of their duties provided that you remain at a safe distance, do not physically interefere with their duties, be on public property or your own property, and if you are on private property, you must have the property owners permission. Police can NOT tell you to stop recording, the can not make you leave if other members of the public (without recording) are allowed to stay. They CAN order you to back up. If you are going to record the police, do it in an open and obvious manner. Under the 1st ammendment there are no circumstances where the contents of video or photographs should be deleted or destroyed. Source - Washington Post

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