TUCoPS :: Cyber Law :: coptalk.txt

Don't talk to cops

                            Don't Talk to Cops


                             Robert W. Zeuner
                     Member of the New York State Bar

    Typed by: The Mad Alchemist|Lunatic Labs BBS 415-278-7421 1200/2400
Re-typed and spelling checked by Richard M. Bash of Combat Arms, 2869 Grove
Way, Castro Valley, California 94546, Telephone (415) 538-6544.

     "GOOD MORNING! My name is investigator Holmes. Do you mind answering a
few simple questions?" If you open your door one day and are greeted with
those words, STOP AND THINK! Whether it is the local police or the FBI at
your door, you have certain legal rights of which you ought to be aware
before you proceed any further.

     In the first place, when law enforcement authorities come to see you,
there are no "simple questions". Unless they are investigating a traffic
accident, you can be sure that they want information about somebody. And
that somebody may be you!

     Rule number one to remember when confronted by the authorities is that
there is no law requiring you to talk with the police, the FBI, or the
representative of any other investigative agency. Even the simplest
questions may be loaded and the seemingly harmless bits of information
which you volunteer may later become vital links in a chain of
circumstantial evidence against you or a friend.


     Such an invitation not only gives him the opportunity to look around
for clues to your lifestyle, friends, reading material, etc., but also
tends to prolong the conversation. The longer the conversation, the more
chance there is for a skill investigator to find out what he wants to know.

     Many times a police officer will ask you to accompany him to the
police station to answer a few questions. In that case, simply thank him
for the invitation and indicate that you are not disposed to accept it at
this time. Often the authorities simply want to photograph a person for
identification purposes, a procedure which is easily accomplished by
placing him in a private room with a two-way mirror at the station, asking
him a few innocent questions, and then releasing him.

     If the investigator becomes angry at your failure to cooperate and
threatens you with arrest, stand firm. He cannot legally place you under
arrest or enter your home without a warrant signed by a judge. If he
indicates that he has such a warrant, ask to see it. A person under arrest,
or located on premises to be searched, generally must be shown a warrant if
he requests it and must be given to chance to read it.

     Without a warrant, an officer depends solely upon your helpfulness to
obtain the information he wants. So, unless you are quite sure of yourself,
don't be helpful!

     Probably the wisest approach to take to a persistent investigator is
simply to say: "I'm quite busy now. If you have any questions that you feel
I can answer, I'd be happy to listen to them in my lawyer's office.

     Talk is cheap. When that talk involves the law enforcement
authorities, it may cost you, or someone close to you, dearly.
     This info came from a leaflet that was printed as a public service by
individuals concerned with the role of authoritarianism and police power in
our society. Please feel free to copy or republish.

     This info also applies to dealing with private investigators, and
corporate security agents.

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