TUCoPS :: Cyber Law :: howtob~1.txt

How to Break the Law, by Duncan Frissell

From real@ecn.ab.ca Mon Jul 05 01:23:17 1999
Newsgroups: alt.2600.moderated
Subject: LAW
From: real@ecn.ab.ca ()
Date: 5 Jul 99 08:23:17 GMT

Duncan Frissell is an attorney. 

HOW TO BREAK THE LAW By Duncan Frissell
   For a fair number of readers, the day may come when the men in funny
suits walk up to you, ask if you are you, and then exercise their power of
arrest. For those without much experience in getting arrested, let me tell
you what in general it will be like (details may vary).
   But first let's review arrest etiquette. Arrest etiquette can be
complicated for the arresting officers but it is easy for the arrestee.
There are only two rules: 1) Keep your mouth shut and 2) Cooperate
physically with the arrest. Following rule two will help preserve your
kidneys, limbs, and skull but following rule one is the most important.
   During the first two years after your arrest, there are only four words
that you should speak to minions of the State in an official capacity:
   "I want a lawyer." 
   Say nothing else. You gain NO benefits by saying things to the cops and
the prosecutors for free. If your lawyer cuts a deal for you, you can talk
in exchange for something but once you speak you can't take the words
back. Lawyers are constantly amazed and entertained by the things their
clients tell the cops. Don't say anything. It's stupid.
   In "The Hacker Crackdown - Law and Disorder on the Electronic
Frontier,"  Bruce Sterling's account of the Legion of Doom/911
Document/Steve Jackson Games busts of 1990, he reports that all the busted
hackers had no clue about how to be arrested. They could reprogram telco
switches with ease but they didn't know the basic rules of how to hack the
criminal justice system so watch it.
      Once you are placed under arrest, you will probably be handcuffed
and transported to a booking facility where you will be photographed,
fingerprinted, and perhaps given a free set of clothing (these days,
usually in orange). Then you will be put in a temporary holding cell with
many other interesting people. Your fellow residents will ask you why
you've been arrested, and when you tell them that you've taken a fall for
operating an outlaw BBS, they'll probably laugh. Eventually, you'll be
brought up before a judge or magistrate who will set your bail. If you
don't make bail you will be sent to a longer term facility, perhaps a city
prison, to await trial.
   While you're waiting, you can review all the things that you should
have done before breaking the law. Most free thinkers can come up with a
lot of reasons for violating the law at one time or another. Just
breathing is often sufficient. Like any other semi-hazardous activity,
careful preparation is the key. The purpose of this article is not to tell
you how not to get caught --- such strategies vary with the laws violated.
No, this article is aimed at providing you with an outline of how to
prepare for getting caught. No matter how careful you are in the planning
of your criminal career, things can go wrong. Thinking about the
possibility of failure in advance may encourage you to improve your
over-all strategy and at least will diminish the damage that the
authorities can do to you.
   Psychological preparation is absolutely the most vital task that you
must undertake. Before you decide to break the law you must have convinced
yourself that the State is wrong and that, for you, the risk of punishment
is less significant than the benefits from violating the law. There often
is a good foundation for this undertaking, as many people believe that
most States are without much moral justification and amount to criminal
gangs in themselves. So, at least on a philosophical level, breaking the
law might be fairly easy for some of us to do at one time or another. But
it is important to realize that when you break the law you are playing it
for real, and you might have to face the music. So, while it is obviously
better not to be apprehended in the first place, defending yourself
psychologically if you do get caught will prove significant, since if the
State cannot touch your soul, it gains little by arresting you. With
proper contemplation you can build on this knowledge and provide yourself
with the best defense against State aggression.
      The philosophical advantage held by those of unconventional mind can
be contrasted with the situation of some conservative tax rebels whose
radicalism is undercut by their belief in the basic legitimacy of the
State. I've seen conservatives break down when the courts predictably
tossed out their constitutional arguments in tax cases and sentenced them
to prison. Their background of basic support for the State apparatus lays
a heavy layer of guilt on them once they are labeled criminals. If you
intend to break the law be sure, in advance, that you won't be feeling
guilty. There will be enough people only too eager to send you on a guilt
trip over your activities, without your adding to it. 
   On a practical level there are many steps you can take to lessen the
ability of the State to punish you effectively:
   1. Learn something about the law. It helps to know, in advance if you
can, when you are violating the law and a little about the court system
and the possible penalties. This is important for you, even if you don't
intend to violate the law, since there are enough laws around to allow the
State to get you almost any time it wants on one charge or another. There
are loads of legal self-help books out there today. Berkeley's Nolo Press
and the ACLU have published books covering business and personal legal
problems and the rights of various sorts of people (students, mental
patients, gays, etc.). If you have the time, energy, and money, going to
law school might be a good idea. This is particularly true in California
where loose eligibility requirements for the State Bar examination have
encouraged the proliferation of "free enterprise" law schools and where it
is fairly easy to get a legal education in your spare time.

    2. Protect your assets. Apart from imprisonment, violations of the law
may result in fines. In addition, your activities may lead to civil
penalties. In tax law violations, your property is obviously in jeopardy.
In fact, with many popular forms of "criminal" activity, your money is in
greater danger than your liberty. The recent expansion of the seizure laws
has filled the pages of USA Today and the big-city dailies with page-long
lists of bank accounts and other property seized by law enforcement
agents. This represents a civil liberties problem of immense proportions,
not to mention a practical problem for would-be law violators. The best
way to protect your property from loss is to hide it where the State
cannot find it. Secrecy is your greatest asset. What the State cannot
find, it cannot confiscate. You should sell your major personal
possessions. If you own your own home or an expensive late-model car, you
risk losing these possessions if you are convicted of a crime.
Transferring these assets to friends or relatives is not usually good
enough. If the party trying to collect money from you can prove that they
were given away for less than their real value with intent to hide them
from creditors, the transactions can be set aside as fraudulent transfers.
       Keep some of your wealth in some anonymous, easily concealable
form, such as cash or gold and silver coins. If you feel that you must
keep bank accounts, you must arrange it so that no one knows of their
existence or can connect them with you. In some cases, even Swiss Bank
accounts can be attached by the US authorities if you are convicted of a
crime. If you have interest earning accounts in your name in this country,
the bank will report the interest earned to the IRS every year (and thus
the existence of your account).
       What you should do with any bank account in this country is to set
it up under a nom de guerre. Even though this is harder than it used to
be, it is still possible. However you choose to set up your account, you
must arrange it so that statements are not sent to you at your ordinary
address. You can request that the bank hold statements for you at the bank
itself, or you can use a mail drop of some sort. If you let any evidence
of the accounts existence come to you through the mails, you may lose the
account if the government opens your mail. The same problem is encountered
with securities or other types of "paper" investments --- they tend to
generate a lot of mail. And before you risk them, you should make some
arrangements to cut off this paper flow.
       Of course, you may want to keep a small bank account to pay your
day-to-day expenses, but you should only deposit an amount you can afford
to lose if the account is attached. But be careful not to leave a paper
trail connecting this account with any others you might have. It is
probably safest not to keep any significant assets in domestic banks at
all. The risks are great, and thanks to the Federal Reserve Board's Open
Markets Committee, the benefit of a $US account in a US bank is slight.
Foreign bank accounts in strong currencies are another matter. I refer you
to Harry Brown's Complete Guide to Swiss Banks for a good discussion of
bank secrecy in general and foreign bank accounts in particular.
       You must avoid investments, such as land, which are on public
record and are difficult to hide. Highly liquid investments that are easy
to hide are better. Precious metals are a good idea, and you may want to
keep a little cash around in case you decide to avoid arrest by fleeing.
You can think of different ways of hiding these assets, but remember that
the same considerations which apply to bank accounts apply to any safe
deposit boxes in which you might want to store valuables.
       You should live in a rented dwelling. You don't want your home to
be in jeopardy while you are sparring with the government. Car leasing is
easy to arrange these days. If you don't own these major assets the
government cannot take them. You could also drive an older car. It won't
be worth seizing or won't be much of a loss if it is.
       Your random personal property is generally safe from attachment,
but any valuable collections of books or art will be in jeopardy. So you
should liquidate them or take steps to protect them. You can discern the
principle involved from this brief outline. Your major assets are either
hidden in liquid form or safely in bank accounts that only you know about
and that can not be traced to you. You should not use substantial property
that is in your own name. Rent instead. Each state has its own laws which
set forth how much and what type of property is exempt from attachment by
creditors. Be aware that government creditors have additional collection
powers not available to private creditors. Investigate the law in your
state to find how much of the property in your possession is safe. It's
usually not very much, so plan accordingly.
       This may seem like a radical change to your life, but it is
probably better to change the nature of your property --- even if the
change is inconvenient --- than to take the chance of losing it. Besides,
cash, gold, silver, or foreign bank accounts should probably be part of
your investment program already.
    3. Think about your job. If you have a conventional job with a
conventional employer you may lose it if you are arrested or convicted.
You may have an easier time of it if you are self-employed or engaged in
some unconventional activity on a professional basis. I am not saying that
you have to quit your job, but you should analyze the effect that a run-in
with the law will have on your occupation. It will at least encourage you
to think about alternative means of earning a living, one that will not
suffer if you are arrested.
       It is through our jobs that we are controlled. Reluctance to change
jobs keeps us in one place, when it might be safer to leave. Lots of
social regulation has been piled on the employer/employee relationship. It
is there that most of the taxes we pay are collected. Studies of the
effect of criminal conviction on income have shown that the average
blue-collar worker regains the same wage earned before imprisonment within
one year after release. On the other hand, imprisonment dramatically
reduces the wages of white-collar workers, whose jobs are more likely to
involve reputation and "credentials". If you are self-employed, you will
be in better shape, because you are unlikely to fire yourself for
"criminal" activity.
       Fortunately, there have been some major changes in employment
arrangements for employees as well. There are numerous contract (temp) and
consultant positions available today for any type or level of job
experience. If you have been the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, there are
agencies that will be happy to place you as a temp CEO. Insurance
professionals, lawyers, middle-managers, engineers, secretaries, and
waiters, all have temp employment agencies that serve them. These jobs can
be obtained without background checks and other invasive procedures
    4. Avoid involving others. While you are protecting your property, you
should be sure that you are not entangling friends or relatives in your
activities. Each person should be left to make her or his own decision in
regard to an illegal undertaking. You must separate your property and your
actions from the property or activities of those close to you,
particularly those with whom you have a sexual relationship. It is neither
fair nor particularly good for your relations with others to get them
involved in your arrest. If you are living with other people it is a good
idea to avoid carrying on illegal activities in the home. If you do your
business elsewhere, the cops will find it more difficult to charge those
living in your home with accomplice liability based on their knowledge of
your crimes. At no time should you have anyone who is not a completely
informed co-conspirator sign any documents which are involved in your
illegal activities. Don't slip your spouse the 1040 to sign after you've
"plead the Fifth" on it and claimed Bill Clinton as a dependent.
    You should also sever your financial ties with the uninvolved. The
state can grab the full balance of joint bank accounts, even if the
"innocent" partner deposited most of the money. Other forms of joint
property may be safer, but the state can still grab your half and convert
the other owner into a co-tenant with the government. Keep your money and
other property separate. If you've followed the suggestions in Section 2
above, you will already have eliminated most entanglements with others,
but such involvements are something to watch out for. As I also pointed
about above, don't transfer your property to friends or relatives in
anticipation of any criminal activities, since the state can go after it
anyway, dragging others into court.
    5. Develop at least a nodding acquaintance with a lawyer (or someone
with as big a mouth). If you are arrested, it is very comforting to have
someone to call. Someone on the outside can do more about getting bail
together, reporting your case to Amnesty International, and getting you
out, than you can do from inside. You might like to get to know a
sympathetic lawyer, if you happen to have one in the neighborhood. There
are even anarchist lawyers. As an anarchist law student once said when
asked by his friends how an he could be a lawyer, "My father is a
physician, but that doesn't mean that he believes in disease." A
philosophically compatible lawyer should be able to give you some moral
support since he should at least understand your attitude towards the law
you violated. 
    6. Practice privacy in your daily life. Most of us are not used to
keeping information about ourselves to ourselves. We regularly fill out
forms, giving loads of personal information about yourself. Whenever
people ask us questions, we tell them the truth. If you break these habits
in advance of need, you'll be in good practice to lie convincingly when
you need it. I can't give you a full course in privacy techniques in this
article, but here are a few pointers:
        a) Have all your mail delivered to a mail receiving service. There
is no
    need for anyone but your friends to know where you sleep. "My Sister
    Rebecca Schaefer might be alive today if a psycho fan hadn't looked up
    address in the files of the California DMV. Whenever anyone asks your
    address, give them the mail drop address, using the box number as an
    apartment number. 
        b) Use a voice mailbox for receiving phone calls from strangers.
    computer-based services are available for about $10/month almost
    in the US. You receive what looks like a normal phone number. You can
    an greeting message. These services are almost indistinguishable from
    phone line with answering machine, but they can be obtained without
    the voice mail company any information about you and, of course, there
is no
    geographic link between you and the account. 
        c) Get your utility service in a phony or borrowed name. Public
    Utilities are legally required to give you service. They may require a
    deposit if they don't know you, but that's a small price to pay for
    You may need some created ID to start service in bureaucratic places
    California, but it still can be done. 
        d) Encrypt the personal files and records on your computer's hard
    and floppies. There are many high quality, free encryption programs
out in
    the world today (PGP 2.0 for example). So you have no excuse. Don't
    on the ecryption technologies built into programs like Lotus 1-2-3 or
    because they use easily broken cipher techniques. 
        e) Dispose of your paper records. Almost everyone who's convicted
of a
    crime is convicted by their own records. 
        f) Don't give the government information about yourself.
    percent of what they know about you is based on things you've told
    Even if you want to follow the letter of the law in these matters,
    your bureaucratic filings. Some of them are not required and others
carry no
    practical penalties. Few people have done any hard time for census
        g) Avoid domestic credit cards. Government investigators can do
    checks on you by computer without a warrant. The less information in
    credit reports the better. The best way to secure your financial
privacy is
    have an off-shore credit card. If you must use a domestic credit card,
use a
    secured credit card that can be obtained without giving lots of
    If, after you have done everything you can to protect your mind and
your property from the hazards of the criminal justice system, you are
arrested anyway, it's not the end of the world. At least you are receiving
some personal attention from an otherwise cold and distant government. It
is sort of a compliment actually. Not everyone is worth arresting. Most of
those arrested aren't worth prosecuting. And most of those prosecuted and
convicted aren't worth imprisoning either. In this era of limits,
governments can only afford to prosecute and punish a limited number of
    The government criminal justice enterprise is much less efficient than
McDonalds, so chances are they will offer you some sort of deal. They
don't want to spend tons of dough to put you away and $60 to $100 thousand
a year to keep you there. Watch those deals though. Michael Milkin pleaded
guilty and got a sentence as long as he would have gotten if found guilty
at trial. Sometimes it's better to take the trial, particularly in
political prosecutions.
   If you end up having to spend an extended period of time as a guest of
the government, you should try to take as relaxed an attitude as possible.
It may help to think of the prison experience as a well-earned vacation.
After all, you'll finally get the chance to read all those books you've
put off reading over the years. You will also get thousands of dollars
worth of services yearly, including clothing, meals, lodging,
entertainment, medical care (sort of), and education.
   Most significantly of all, you will gain first-hand experiences that
can help your philosophical and literary development. Many famous writers
made good use of their prison time. Also, you will have the opportunity to
live in a totalitarian socialist state. In this day and age it's becoming
hard to find living examples of totalitarian socialist governments. A few
years in prison will encourage you to redouble your efforts to fight such
social systems. 

                            Graham-John Bullers
                     moderator of alt.2600.moderated
    email : real@freenet.edmonton.ab.ca | ab756@freenet.toronto.on.ca


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