Arrest Proof Yourself
The only way to avoid encounters with police is to avoid putting yourself in a position where you have a higher than average probability to have to deal with law enforcement. Here are some tips to try and arrest-proof yourself to avoid having to encounter the police if at all possible.
- Always be polite. Not only do you need to realize you are being recorded, and should always realize there is a chance your behavior will be viewed by a Judge or Jury later, but if you behave with an attitude with a police officer, it may lead to an arrest that may not have otherwise occurred, or in additional charges being filed because they are ticked off at your behavior.
- Don’t Drink and Drive! This one is obvious. In today’s day and age – if you drink alcohol and operate a vehicle in Texas, you are almost just asking to be pulled over and arrested for DWI. The important point is this – it is not illegal to drink and drive – it is only illegal to drive while intoxicated. That being said – even if you are not intoxicated legally speaking, the smell of alcohol alone will lead a police officer to give you and your vehicle and thorough once-over, which in all honesty, no person really wants. I routinely defend people against charges of DWI and have done so for the majority of my law practice career. I obviously am not writing this to be judged, but because I know firsthand how easy it is to be arrested for DWI in Texas. If you have had anything to drink, and are pulled over late at night, chances are you will be going to jail. Officers have trained to make an arrest first and let the courts sort it out later. I have personally heard police officers at court say this actual statement or some variation similar to it before they testify. “Hey, look guys – I just am trained to make the arrest. You guys do whatever is needed in court, I just arrest people for DWI’s.” No lie – heard that or some variation numerous times in court from multiple police officers in a variety of different police departments. Arrest-proof yourself – don’t drink and drive Uber.
- Do not text and drive. Texting and driving can seem like more erratic driving behavior even when compared to an intoxicated person. People hit curbs, other cars, drift in lanes, etc. If you don’t want to be pulled over – don’t text and drive.
- Be invisible as best as you can. If the police do not notice you, chances are they won’t arrest you. So always make an effort to avoid standing out from the crowd. Do not drive a car that clearly draws attention to a person and will no doubt catch the attention of a police officer who may be making their round to hopefully make an arrest. If a person behaves in a manner like a crook, walks around like a criminal, and acting like a criminal, chances are pretty high a police officer will want to inquire if the person is a criminal. In short, do not draw unwanted attention to yourself. Do not travel at outrageous speeds or flagrantly disregard basic safety laws while driving. Always wear your seat belt. Some vehicles that people drive which stand out also basically just place a huge sign on themselves for police attention. Loud cars, cars with additional equipment that make it faster, etc. – all draw attention, and usually it is not the kind you want. Police love to pull people over if they think they are cool by standing out by driving a car with a loud engine. If you do it – just know you are going to be pulled over more often than most other people.
- Make sure everything in your vehicle is working properly. People riding around in cars with defective equipment are police magnets. Cars with broken tail lights, no registration, no tags, etc. – are all just pretty much asking to be pulled over. Often a routine traffic ticket can also buy a ticket to jail, and police officers know this. The solution to this is by ensuring that all equipment is working properly and that all paperwork is up to date. Today, police officers can instantly run your tags and registration on their computers when they pull up behind you.
- Make sure you do not have any outstanding traffic tickets or warrants. Just like the above with making sure all equipment is working in a proper fashion, make sure that you do not have any outstanding traffic tickets or warrants. Traffic stops are the primary way for most people with outstanding warrants to be arrested. Deal with them, find out if you possibly may have an outstanding warrant and take care of it. It sounds obvious, but countless clients I’ve represented get arrested for not only this but often for other charges as well because the arrest can sometimes yield other possible ways to charge someone with additional crimes. If you do and are pulled over, a police officer automatically has the power to make an arrest. Many times they do this simply because they want to search the vehicle or the person to see if they have any contraband on them. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve represented who have been driving around with outstanding traffic tickets, get pulled over, and for one reason or another, it turns into a more serious arrest. Police officers are not stupid, they have a pretty good idea if they are is marijuana or meth in the vehicle. A great way for them to be able to search without worrying about consent is to just make an arrest for an outstanding Class C traffic ticket warrant, and then they can do a full fledge search of practically anything and anywhere they want (there are some exceptions). Regardless – if you want to arrest-proof yourself, make sure you don’t have a reason for them to take you to jail.
- Avoid driving late at night. A police officer once told me after a trial that the best way to ensure you do not get pulled over and hassled by the police is to try and avoid driving at night. He said police officers know that normal, everyday working citizens do not go out late at night and hang out at places like bars, etc. You can drive around certain areas in the city I live in – Plano, TX – and at night you can see multiple police patrol vehicles stationed at just about every block.
- Make sure your vehicle does not smell of alcohol or marijuana. Marijuana is visible, and has a strong odor that will emanate from a vehicle, and is often easily visible inside a car. Make sure you don’t drive around with marijuana in your car. Likewise, the same applies to alcohol. If your car smells of alcohol when an officer makes a traffic stop, you are getting arrested for a DWI. Period.
- Be confident. If you are pulled over or are detained while you are walking on the street, there are some general tips that can help to not only to maybe avoid an arrest but to ensure things do not escalate further than they have to.
- a) Stand Straight up and make eye contact with the police officer: doing this shows you feel like you have no reason to be afraid and have nothing to hide;
- b) Always be respectful, polite, and calm: even though it can be a frustrating situation, being rude and combative will only make things worse. A police officer is just regular people like everyone else. Not all are bad, and many are just trying to do a good job. If someone is pulled over, and perhaps has an outstanding Class C warrant, the officer could maybe decide not to make an arrest and just tell the individual to make sure they take care of it. If you a jerk to them – the odd of this happen decrease significantly. Be nice, and polite.
- Ignore the “Inciter” Police Officer. We all have encountered one before – some police officer who loves his job too much and takes great pleasure in the power and authority he has, and gets genuinely happy when he makes other people’s life worse. Nothing makes these particular officers happier than to ruin someone’s day for going 5 miles over the speed limit. Some police officer maybe will try to test the limit – perhaps get up in your face, raise their voice, purposefully lean into your car or if on foot, into your personal space just to make you uncomfortable. If this occurs, ignore the inciter and kill them with kindness. You attract more bees with honey than vinegar. If they are acting ridiculous, do not react in kind. Ignore the inciter, and be the bigger person, even if it is a hard pill to swallow.
- Never resist or touch a police officer. Never, under any circumstance, touch a police officer, even if they maybe deserve it. As well, if you find yourself in an encounter with a police officer, make sure your hands are visible at all times and never put them in your pocket. They immediately think you are going for a weapon, even if it is Aunt Bea they are investigating.
- Keep hands free at all times if pulled over for a traffic stop. Just like the hands in the pocket, officers get edgy when a driver moves his hands around in the vehicle. Especially in Texas where many people have concealed handgun permits to legally carry a firearm, police officers know this and are immediately on guard. Don’t make a situation tenser by making the police officer more anxious.
- Never consent. This one has repeated over and over again – and this is for a reason. If you make sure that you make it police to NEVER give voluntary consent to search/enter a place/premise/vehicle – you are literally bypassing a huge hurdle which could exist that may lead to an arrest. You never know if someone else has left prescription pills inside a vehicle you may be driving. If you give your consent to search your vehicle, and they find even one of these pills, you will be making a trip to jail that could have otherwise been avoided.
- Invoke the Magic Words when all else seems not to fail. Invoke the magic words by just asking the following:
- Question: “Officer, “AM I FREE TO LEAVE?” If the answer is yes, then LEAVE. If the answer is no, then ask what the purpose is for them not letting you do so.
- Question: “AM I UNDER ARREST?” If the answer is yes to the above, then proceed to state the following: 1) “I DO NOT CONSENT TO ANY SEARCHES. I INVOKE MY RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT. I INVOKE MY RIGHT TO HAVE LEGAL COUNSEL PRESENT.”
- There is a scene in the movie Horrible Bosses I love because it actually depicts someone properly doing this, albeit in a comedic fashion. During the scene in the movie the main characters they are being questioned by the police. One of the actors perfectly asserts the “Magic Words” and it works to perfection. If it worked in a movie that was a comedy, trust me – it will work also in real life.
- Always appear comfortable and in control. If a police officer observes you and you clearly look out of place, lost, or like you don’t belong where you are, police officers are curious people and their job is to make arrests. If you seem uneasy and unconformable or like you are trying to hide something, they may stop a person to talk just out of sheer curiosity. If this occurs, certain factors can then occur where they may conclude as reasonable suspicion to justify further questions and maybe even a search or an arrest. Many specific situations can occur to peek the interest of a police officer into digging a bit further, such as where they may see someone engage in odd movements such as taking a sharp turn onto another street or just going wherever it may be that happens to be in the opposite direction to avoid their presence, when it is clear. If a police officer sees someone sharply turning fast the order way they are walking down the street, when a person behaves in a way they perceive as unusual (they may think you are trying to hide drugs), even when a person just maybe in a place that is a high crime area and it is clear they do not belong, if a person is someone is known to the police as someone who uses drugs or has been arrested before for previous criminal offenses, or associations with other individuals who they know to be known criminals all may lead a law enforcement officer to justify trying to see if there is something going on where they can investigate and make any arrests.
- Be as inconspicuous as possible: If you are walking around in some area, try to be as inconspicuous as possible. The more you look like you’re out of place or like you are nervous or scared, the more susceptible you are to attract attention. In addition, avoid making overt furtive movements. Police officers when they observe this automatically think it is because a person is trying to hide or to conceal something illegal. All of these scenarios increase the higher likelihood that an officer may feel something is amiss and may give them a reason to try and approach you to see how you act. He might not have reasonable suspicion that you may be doing something illegal, but that consensual encounter may turn into an investigatory encounter or detention if certain odd behavior is observed. At that point, a police officer would be entitled to do a “Terry” pat-down of your person for a general search for weapons, which often can lead to them finding other items such as some form of illegal contraband. If you’ve got drugs in your pocket, and they feel it during the Terry pat-down frisk, then that would then give him probable cause to conduct a full-blown arrest. Avoid,
- Make sure nothing is in plain view in your car that is could even in the slightest fashion that may appear as if you are in possession of any illegal contraband. It is shocking to me how many arrests occur because some people do not take the minute or two to make sure a pipe is properly hidden and not within view. Make sure you always remember to make sure nothing could ever be conceivably perceived, and in the plain view inside your vehicle, even if it is just something you may feel is not a concern. Police officers love to just peek inside vehicles and love to see what they can see. If they see anything they believe is contraband that is in plain view, it gives them automatic probable cause to search the entire vehicle. Be smart, don’t leave items just laying around.
- Always have the street credential cards included and have them ready to hand to a police officer. Doing this significantly decreased the likelihood that they will be able to conduct any investigation other than what is patently obvious. It also shows them you are prepared and ready for however they plan to treat you. Often, with individuals like this police officer just choose to leave them alone because they realize from the get-go any questions or an investigation likely will not yield anything fruitful for them.
- Prescription Drugs – Many people are not aware how it is usually illegal to possess a prescription medicine unless you also carry the written prescription medicine with you or you keep the pills in the orange plastic container from the pharmacy (which has the prescription on the label). Many people find it awkward to carry around prescription medication in the original container, and so sometimes put it in plastic bags or other types of dispensers. When you do this, you MUST carry at least a photocopy of the prescription with you. It has to be the one written by the doctor, so the photocopy must be made before giving the prescription to the pharmacist. These laws apply to ALL prescription medication, even such routine meds as birth control pills or blood pressure reducers. Possession of this type of drug is not as serious as some other types of offenses, but it will likely be enough to get you arrested and in jail. There is a good chance of success at court in proferring how the medication was for the person arrested, but it still wouldn’t be fun to have to get arrested, taken to jail, have to bond out, go to court, hire a lawyer, etc. all for just carrying prescription medication that your own. I can say I have represented numerous individuals before for charges just like this. I was able to achieve a great result at court – but it didn’t avoid them having to go through the entire criminal justice process. Be smart. Know the law. Prescription drugs even if your own can possibly lead you to be arrested. Arrest-proof yourself, and at the very least – carry around the street credentials I have provided.
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