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Thanks to Chris Hibbert for the clarification of his (her?)
police stop scenario. The first impression would have
constituted very bad advice for dealing with your friend, the
In his second message, Chris wrote:
... you do have to give a name (and probably an address)
when the police ask.
Of course, it might be added that you have to give a *correct*
name, address and whatever. In common law countries, such as the
US and UK, this requirement might not be as unequivocal as one
might think. What name would "John Wayne" (or "Bill Clinton" for
that matter) have to give? Neither was born with those names.
What if Paul Stubens(?) hadn't volunteered that he was "Pee Wee
Herman" when he got busted for lewd conduct? Maybe he'd still be
on TV in his Playhouse.
... When they do have probable cause, they can insist
that you cooperate or allow a search. And if you don't
cooperate, they can arrest you.
"Probably cause" is not required for a police officers to make
what is called a "field stop." The criterion for a field stop is
"reasonable suspicion." During a field stop, an officer can hold
on to you only as long as it takes to determine if there is
probable cause to believe you have committed a crime (this could
include checking to see if you have any wants or warrants).
Incidental to the field stop, the officer is allowed to do a
gross pat-down search of you and anything you are wearing or
carrying. The purpose of this pat-down is solely to determine if
you have weapons that would endanger the officer. They can't,
for example, look inside an envelope (which might contain drugs),
because it could not reasonably be expected to conceal a weapon
such as a knife or gun.
... If you assume they always have the right to insist,
you will spend more time talking to cops than you have
to, and will let them dig deeper than they have a right
to. The longer they poke around the better the chances
they'll find something you thought of as innocent that
they think is suspicious....
Amen, to that.
When a cop asks if he can look in the trunk of your car,
or take a look around your apartment, you can say "I'd
rather not," and ask if you're free to go. **Remember
that they have a gun** and the right to use it in some
situations. Be polite. They'll let you know if they're
insisting on your cooperation. Physical resistance is a
very bad idea. But there's no need to let them look if
they don't insist, and they are prohibiting from
insisting if they don't have a legally justifiable
S a n d y