What to Do In a Drug Arrest – Dale Carson Law

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arrestMost people have never been arrested. So if you find yourself in a position where the police have caught you in a car, out in the open, or in some location other than your actual home, you will almost certainly find yourself in a difficult fight or flight circumstance.  Oddly, what this means is that when you experience an adrenaline dump you will lose your ability to think logically. In these circumstances, as a police officer and as an FBI agent, I found every one of these encounters worked to my advantage.  When potential suspects are not able to think logically, they resort to thinking like children.  I’m not talking about 14-year-old children who have an attitude.  I’m speaking about a five-year-old who, when confronted by an adult in a questioning manner, typically responds with the truth.  For example, when I was a police officer in Miami it was hot during the summer and I encountered an individual walking down a roadway wearing a long winter military overcoat.  I stopped him, got out of my car, looked him straight in the face and said, “What are you doing wearing that long winter military overcoat?”  Instantly he responded, “I am concealing 2 kg of marijuana.”  I said, “Show me,” and he did.

Certainly, few people would be so confused about life to attempt to conceal 2 kg of marijuana under an overcoat in the middle of summer in Miami, Florida, and not expect to be questioned.

You now have the advantage of knowing that when you are confronted by law enforcement and you have on your person or in your car or in your general control a quantity of drugs:  marijuana, cocaine, heroin, speed ,oxycodone, OxyContin, methamphetamine, or other illegal substance, you will instantly experience an adrenaline dump, which will cause you to be confused and at a disadvantage.  This is why the most critical case-saving defensive strategy you can engage in is to simply remain silent.  This is your fifth amendment privilege; it is the right against self-incrimination and request an experienced drug attorney.

I will admit that it is extremely, yes extremely difficult not to respond to questioning from law enforcement when you are confronted unexpectedly.  It takes practice to keep your mouth shut.  It takes practice to shoot a gun properly.  It takes practice to hit a golf ball down the fairway.  It takes practice, practice, practice to do anything competently.   I’m not talking about perfectly; I’m talking about competently.  And I suggest that the simplest way to practice this is to be self-aware, KNOW that when you are confronted by law enforcement if you are in possession your response must always be to say only your name and your address.  Do not give them a phone number, do not give them your best friend’s name, do not tell them specifically what you are doing in the area, because law enforcement has the ability to use anything you say against you.  Your knee-jerk response to a sudden encounter from law enforcement is to stand still and only respond to questions related to your primary identity, which is limited to your name and address. There is no segue into an explanation, it is simply standing or sitting, saying nothing except I exercise my right to remain silent and would like to speak to my attorney.

This is why it is also important for you to have an attorney who will accept calls from you when you need legal advice when you’re in the back of the squad car.  We offer this type of service to our clients on a routine basis so that we know who you are and what to expect when you call. No, we do not know other people’s criminal activity in advance of it happening and we don’t need to know, we simply need to know who you are and how we can be of legal service to you in your moment of need.

When a lawyer talks for you those words cannot be used against you because it is not you talking.  This can be valuable when it comes to negotiating with law enforcement if you wish to obtain release by cooperating.  If you simply blurt out the truth because you are scared and acting like a five-year-old it will not later benefit you; I cannot negotiate when you have given away all of your secrets.

While I am on this topic, is not unusual for us to receive calls from clients who have been asked very sweetly to come down to the local Sheriff’s office and meet with detectives concerning a matter.  The actual matter is not discussed over the phone, which creates a curiosity in the call recipient which can only be satisfied by the interviewee going to the Sheriff’s office and sitting down with detectives and engaging in a conversation.  If we lived in the Amazon and we heard a leopard scream in the night we would know without a shadow of doubt that we should not wander out into the dark woods for we will probably be attacked and devoured.  Another example is if I were to open my car door and ask you to place your hand in the opening on the frame and wait for me to slam the door closed on your hand you would refuse to do so because you understand the consequences.

Anyone who is in possession of illegal narcotics should keep these examples in mind if they are ever asked to come down to the police department and make a statement or if they are confronted in the real world and questioned about their behavior.  We should all understand that if law enforcement needs to ask us questions there is a serious problem and we need to become instantly wary and know that we are in a potentially life-changing situation and realize that we need somebody competent to insulate us from law enforcement so that our words are not taken out of context and later used to convict us of a criminal offense.

Under no circumstances should you go to a police station and discuss a potential criminal act with law enforcement.  In those circumstances everything is set to the interviewing officer’s advantage.  For those who do not know, you will be placed in a 10 x 10 interview room with a desk, no drawers, and two to three chairs. The room will be insulated, typically with carpet on the walls, there will be microphones which you cannot see, along with a continuously-running camera feed. At the beginning of the interview the officer will typically offer you a beverage and provide you with an Advice of Rights form.  This form starts the process of you responding yes to questions as the officer asks you if you understand each sentence of the form.  At the conclusion of the Advice of Rights form he will ask Are you ready to answer my questions now?  Your response must be NO, not yes, (yes, being the response you have given to every previous question).

You must realize that the officer conducting the interview, or what I referred to as “conversation” when I taught interview and interrogation for the FBI, is there for one purpose and that is to obtain a confession.  It can happen suddenly.  One of the most frequent non-drug cases relate to what I call Romeo and Juliet sex offenses: 14-year-old boy meets 13-year-old girl they become romantically entangled and mama finds out that her little princess has engaged in premarital conduct of a sexual nature with a kid she does not like.  Mama calls the police.  The police respond and ultimately identify the young  Romeo. They will call his cell phone number and ask him to come to the police department and talk to a detective.  There will be no discussion whatever of the purpose of the meeting.  When the young man shows up the detective will ask him, quote, Son, you know what this is all about.  To which the boy replies, No.  After which the detective will say, Are you familiar with the crime of rape? to which the young Romeo will say immediately it was not rape, she wanted to. This is a confession.

So remember these ideas, these concepts, if you are engaged in criminal activity, more specifically being in possession of quantities of illegal narcotics and you are confronted by law enforcement for any reason.

Let’s use a traffic stop or a Terry stop for example.  (A Terry stop is a brief detention of a person by police on reasonable suspicion of involvement in criminal activity but short of probable cause to arrest.)  You, of course, will know that you are in possession.  You no doubt also know of the extensive jail sentences often given to individuals arrested in possession of illegal drugs. The combination of these facts will cause an adrenaline dump into your body which will cause you to not be able to think logically.  In fact, you may behave like a five-year-old would in response to a question from a parent by telling the truth.  Clearly, this is not in your best interest because you are admitting a criminal violation.  Sometimes courts will permit a spontaneous statement to be entered into evidence in court even though you have not been advised of your rights.  In any event, your best interests are served by remaining silent and only giving your name and your address and certainly not your phone number.

In today’s world a phone number is a key which will open up for law enforcement your personal connections  and information contained on your cell phone and through the cell phone company’s records, including text messages and in-the-cloud photographs that you may not wish them to see.  Photographs such as individuals standing with firearms and large amounts of cash and large green bundles of marijuana are legion and much sport is made of the individuals displayed in such photographs.  Do not give law enforcement access to your smart phone.  Your smart phone should be password-protected and if law enforcement is discovered to have entered your password-protected cell phone without a warrant any information used which leads to your conviction could cause the case to be dismissed and you would have a potential civil action in federal court against the law enforcement officers who improperly accessed your personal information.

As we all know, some law-enforcement officers have equipment which will permit them to override your smartphone security measures and download all of your personal data.  To this end, even Amazon now sells Faraday bags into which smartphones are placed to prevent users from remotely erasing smartphone contents.

And while we’re on the topic, do not use Facebook or other social media to display your involvement with or connection to criminal activity, particularly drug usage.  Remember, if they had enough to arrest you they wouldn’t need to talk to you.  And while that used to be true, it is even more true today that law enforcement simply wants to simplify their objective.  So, please, if you are caught in a car on the street or in an area not your home and you are in possession of narcotics say nothing. If you are in your home and police ask to search your residence you must refuse consent and no matter how many officers are present on your doorstep you cannot permit them inside your residence without a search warrant.  While the same is true for your car and for your person, the fourth amendment provides much more protection for your personal home than for your car or your person.

So when you are pulled over for a traffic stop and the officer says to you, Do you have any guns or narcotics or money in your car? your answer must be, Officer, I have patiently awaited your processing of my traffic violation.  I am late now and I need to go.  May I go please?  True, this is not a response to the officer’s question, but you do not have to answer that officer’s question.  If you do answer the question by saying, No, officer, I do not have any guns or narcotics or cash in my car, he will most certainly ask you the trick question, which is, Well, then you don’t mind if I search, do you?    If you have not listened to what I have said here and the officer is able to ask you the question, Do you mind if I search? the answer must be, Officer, I have been patient and I am ready to go.  May I go, please?   If pressed further you should say, My attorney told me never to voluntarily permit a search of my person, my home, or my car.   Thank you.  May I go?    Any officer worth their salt will say, Okay, I will have to get a warrant.  To this you should simply respond, Officer, may I leave?  Finally, the officer may say, I’m having a dog officer respond.

Under a recent Supreme Court case decision the officer on a routine traffic stop will only have 20 minutes to make all this happen, and that is extremely unlikely.  But in no event should you voluntarily consent to a search or confess to a crime.  As an American citizen you have important rights that you control and you cannot and should not cede control of these important rights simply to be pleasant to a law enforcement officer.

If you have questions or concerns about this blog or any of the companion YouTube videos, please do not hesitate to contact us at www.DaleCarsonLaw.com. We are anxious to protect your rights you can contact our office and make arrangements for us to serve as your designated lawyer and we will be happy to protect your rights from being trampled by overzealous law enforcement officers.

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