Intro To General Guidelines On Law Enforcement Encounters
This content is entirely meant to help inform the ordinary citizen what their legal right is who isn’t familiar with the system. I have seen too many people taken advantage of by various law enforcement officials because they either did not know their rights or were too afraid to exercise them.
In my line of work, I often tell people I work with how honesty is rarely the best policy. Advising people on matters related to criminal defense is one of the few exceptions where this rationale is a good policy to follow.
For example, my father was the absolute most honest person I had ever known. When I was a young attorney, he was driving me one time when I was sick with the flu to Houston. A police officer stopped us for the reason that I cannot recall, but I can vividly remember what transpired next. My father, again who was perhaps the most honest, could not tell a lie, person I have ever met in my life. Since I was sick with the flu, my seat was reclined back as we were driving on the highway, and because of this, I did not have my seatbelt on. Once we were pulled over, I immediately instructed my father not to say anything, and to let me handle it and do all the talking. The police officer came up to my passenger side window, I then rolled down the window, and before I could get a word out of my mouth, literally, my father leaned over me and stuck his out of the window and immediately blurted out, “Did you pull us over because my son was not wearing a seatbelt?” I was astonished, and I looked at him in shock. I will never also forget the look on the police officer’s face. He kind of gave a half-smile and was also surprised someone would be so honest and so fast, and he kind of murmured slowly, “Nooooooo…..but, now I will write a citation for the seatbelt violation as well.” My father was I think just so anxious and scared, it was his first reaction just to blurt out the last thing he really should have or was required to. This is a textbook example of a person trying to be honest, nice, attempting to do the right thing, but it ended up causing additional trouble.
This story is a small microcosm of overall dealings with the police and law enforcement, but it does reinforce how in my line of work, it is the truth – “honesty is rarely the best policy.” I don’t think I can recall any scenario where a person has been better off attempting to cooperate as much as possible during an encounter with law enforcement and it has to be to their advantage.
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