Know Your Rights! A Few Simple Questions to Ask When Stopped by the Police

The following post was shared with the CopBlock Network by Shawn Peterman of Southeast Alabama Cop Block shared this post, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page.

A little knowledge and a few words can go a LONG way toward getting a cop to leave you alone and move on to easier prey.

Two simple phrases that could change the way the police deal with people everywhere:

  1. “Officer, am I being detained or am I free to go?” Saying that line will usually make a cop believe that you are very aware of your rights (even if you’re not). It will also usually encourage him/her leave you alone and look for easier prey. In order to detain you, he/she must at least suspect you of committing a specific crime.
  2. “Officer, I am not resisting you, but I do not consent to ANY searches.” Say that loud and clear, and in front of witnesses. Prisons are full of people who claim that the cops put drugs in their vehicles. True or not, saying this will usually stop cops from searching or least make them send for a dog. In either case, this will often encourage them find easier prey.

Bonus:

“Officer, I’d prefer to not produce ID at this time. What crime do you suspect me of committing?”

Great line for a pedestrian stop. While you have to show ID in a traffic stop in Alabama (and most other states), according to Alabama law (2006 Alabama Code – Section 15-5-30) law enforcement is only able to demand ID from a person that he/she “reasonably suspects is committing, has committed, or is about to commit a felony or other public offense.” Even then, he’s only allowed to demand your name, address and your reason for being where you are. Check your local laws. Remember this the next time you’re walking down the street and a cop appears and demands your papers.

For more information, check out: www.flexyourrights.org, www.copblock.org facebook.com/southeastalabamacopblock

– Shawn Peterman
Southeast Alabama Cop Block

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About Kelly W. Patterson

a lifelong resident of Las Vegas, who’s been very active in local grassroots activism, as well as on a national level during his extensive travels. He’s also the founder/main contributor of Nevada Cop Block, served as editor/contributor at CopBlock.org and designed the Official Cop Block Press Passes.
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60 Responses to “Know Your Rights! A Few Simple Questions to Ask When Stopped by the Police”

  1. t July 23, 2014 at 12:03 pm #

    Oh the stupidity. This ought to be fun.

    • Jerad Dorner July 23, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

      That’s right you are very stupid.

      • t July 23, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

        Jerad: And there you go. The uneducated being led by the ill informed.

        Let’s see what other fools speak up.

        Sikko: Well said. I’ve tried over and over to explain the pitfalls of this strategy.
        If I have the RS to stop you….I have the RS to detain you.
        By here may be RS to pat you down (or may be not)
        Of there is PC to search you….I don’t need consent.

        It’s just such silliness to out this out like its a magic mantra.

        • Mike TheVet July 23, 2014 at 5:27 pm #

          You’re not a cop, so stop pretending to be one. You make real officers look bad by advocating for their violence.

          If you actually were non-bias and brought your “pro-Cop” views in a civil manner I.E. without name calling, people might actually respect your opinions.

          But since you continue to slander with juvenile remarks, we’ll continue to use you as a moral punching bag.

          And I’m sure you’ll have a grand reply to my sincere post.

          • t July 23, 2014 at 8:20 pm #

            MIKEY: Back for more huh! Ok

            So….what part of my reply to Jared was wrong?

          • t July 25, 2014 at 6:03 pm #

            Mike? You there?

          • t July 26, 2014 at 4:05 pm #

            It seems that yet again…MiketTheVet can’t string 2 thoughts together.

          • Common Sense July 24, 2014 at 8:53 am #

            t has been around this site, well the real t, not the imposter, for about as long as I have.

            I have little doubt he’s an officer. If he’s not, who cares. The info/advice/opinion he produces his typically correct. If you don’t “respect” is opinion, then don’t read it.

          • Mike TheVet July 24, 2014 at 4:11 pm #

            “I have little doubt he’s an officer”

            but no proof…imagine that.

            If Officer’s routinely think and post like “t,” that would be a shocking revelation, even to advocates of Cop Block.

        • Jerad Dorner July 23, 2014 at 6:28 pm #

          You are a fucking moron quit pretending douche anus.

          • Kazu IV July 23, 2014 at 10:36 pm #

            “Douche Anus” I believe that’s called an Enema.

        • Sikko July 24, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

          Seems some people don’t get the difference between a “Hey, can I talk to you a minute?” Situation, where the question would make sense to ask, as it would clarify whether it was a voluntary encounter or not, and a “Hey, you, stop. Don’t move!” Situation, which would be an obvious detainment.

        • Lawyer August 17, 2014 at 12:56 am #

          The questions are intended to clarify what authority the officer has and what rights the citizen has at any given point. An officer certainly has the authority to detain a motorist who has violated a traffic law for the amount of time it takes to issue the citation. However, without further evidence presenting itself the officer does not have the authority to further detain the motorist. That’s the point of these questions. And, if the contact becomes consensual at any point (like when a ticket is handed to the motorist) the citizen may simply drive or walk away.

    • Sikko July 23, 2014 at 1:40 pm #

      Is this information ever going to be posted on this site with even some of the pertinent background or additional information that goes along with it and keeps a person’s interactions with police minimal?

      As you have pointed out time and again, asking if you’re being detained is great, but if the answer is yes, what then?

      I don’t consent to searches is fine to say, but that’s likely going to extend your interaction with an officer, whether from waiting or a K9 unit or from waiting for a warrant.

      It also leaves out a glaring piece of information. It’s important to know your rights, but it is just as important to know and understand what your responsibilities are as well.

      • lawyer August 17, 2014 at 12:49 am #

        You have no real responsibilities aside from identifying yourself and exiting your car. You have the right to remain silent and the right to have an attorney present with you. The less you say, the less likely it is you will be charged with a crime. And, always refuse a request to search your person, car, house, etc. A lot of cops simply ask for consent to search as a matter of routine, and not because they have cause to search. If they do not have cause, and you refuse, you’re good to go. Be respectful. But, remember, the person who is most likely to get you in trouble is you. Don’t be dumb, and keep your mouth shut.

    • steve July 23, 2014 at 5:04 pm #

      What is wrong with the with the 2 questions and the last statement. If it’s so stupid lets hear why.

      • t July 23, 2014 at 8:29 pm #

        steve: Look at my reply below to Jerad.

        Let’s walk through it….with a little education for ya as we go:
        (It’s fill in the blank)

        For an officer to stop someone, they need _________
        If someone is stopped, they are ________
        If the are _________ that s means they aren’t free to go.
        If they aren’t free to go, they have been _________

        For an officer to arrest someone, we need ________
        For us to search someone, we need ________
        IF we have ______ to arrest them! we also have _______ to search them.

        Now…..hopefully you worked that out for yourself.

        • t July 23, 2014 at 9:10 pm #

          steve:
          Sorry….I had to run for just a second.

          I’m really not trying to talk down to you with those questions. But they answer a lot of why this is a dumb tactic.

          Let me give you a likely type of “street encounter”….the type of thing a CBer might find themselves involved in…..a street fight. I’ve used this example in the past so if it was with you, I apologize in advance.
          So the police get called to an assault having just occurred. We arrive and speak with the caller/complaint. He says that he was assaulted by someone meeting your description who ran off around he corner. I leave….drive around the corner and quickly find you…..meeting the exact description walking away from the scene.
          So now…..I have someone meeting the description of the assailant…..engaged in the behavior the complaint described….within a distance relative to where the incident occurred. Now….from the evidence at the scene, it’s clear some sort of violence had occurred as the complaint had fresh signs of physical confrontation….a bloody nose. The complaint told me that you both exchanged words and then you started assaulting him. Now…..do I know that to be true? No. But it’s clear something happened.
          So when I find you…as described above….I “stop” you as I have ______. You….following the CB “magic mantra”

          • t July 23, 2014 at 9:24 pm #

            Cont.

            Follow the “magic mantra” of asking “am I being detained”. I tell you “yes”. I ask you to tell me what happened. You then give me another CBer classic line of ” i don’t answer questions, I ask questions” and repeat the am I being detained routine.

            So where does that leave us? I have one party who tells me that you assaulted him. He described you and even predicted where you could be found. I find you were I was told you’d be, see that you look as though you had been involved in physical altercation. You refuse to talk to me.

            So….knowing that something happened….being told by one side who did it…..the other side refusing to talk….I now have _____ to make and arrest for assault. Does that mean you assault the complaint? No. He may have assaulted you. It may have been “mutual combat” But I have to act on the evidence available.

            That one of the reason why the CBer “magic mantras” don’t work. You can go from victim to arrested by following this kind of advice. M

            But do what you’d like. You can see how that works out.

          • Ray July 24, 2014 at 4:10 pm #

            I think people are generally smart enough to know when to use the CB mantra and when to refrain. At least I am.

          • t July 24, 2014 at 5:43 pm #

            Ray: As is evidenced here almost daily…..they clearly are not smart enough to. To the CBers…..it’s just a mindless mantra.

          • 187blackdig August 15, 2014 at 12:44 am #

            We beat a cops ass here in Phoenix 2 days ago for asking stupid questions. Didnt want to leave us alone and didn’t have back up. So my bud blind sided him took his gun and badge. This is what those fuckimg pigs deserve would be glad to do it again

          • Roger August 15, 2014 at 3:07 am #

            @t
            In what universe is that scenario of yours an argument against asserting your rights with those phrases?

            Any CB knows that there are scenarios where reasonable suspicion may exist, who here said that the phrase “am I being detained or am I free to go” doesn’t have 2 possible answers? The point here is to weed out those encounters where the pigs are being lawless thugs.

            And if they DO have reasonable suspicion they will answer “you are being detained”, as they would anyway. If he has legitimate suspicion do you think you’re going to talk your way out of a detention?

            And your next point is that once detained you should talk to the police? I take it you never met a decent criminal lawyer. Anyone worth his fee would tell you unequivocally: DO NOT talk to the police once detained (or ever). Search on youtube “do not talk to the police”. Your case will gain is NOTHING from talking to them.

            If you are detained, the mantra is “I wish to remain silent, I want to see my lawyer”

            If you’re going to spread nonsense at least do a better job.

          • dragontech64 August 16, 2014 at 12:23 am #

            Way to sound like a cop telling people to relinquish their rights, bacon. I’ve gone from respecting cops because my parents were cops in the 70’s and my brother currently IS a cop in Spokane, to not trusting a single one of you. You better have a damn good reason to stop me, or your next conversation is with my lawyer as he takes you to court.

        • Common Sense July 24, 2014 at 7:57 am #

          That should be on a CB hand out.

    • timetokillcops July 23, 2014 at 5:46 pm #

      Well it’s either using these kind words and phrases to get you to leave me the fuck alone or I put a bullet in your piggy bitch cop face. You choose bacon bits ;)

      • Common Sense July 24, 2014 at 7:56 am #

        Oooh so edgy.

        • Shawn Dunwoody August 14, 2014 at 11:33 pm #

          5edgy 100 me

      • Trep July 24, 2014 at 6:04 pm #

        Are you a friend of t’s? Cop Block doesn’t hold the views you do. My best guess is your a LE instigator. It doesn’t work here Pal. Go troll somewhere else.

        • t July 25, 2014 at 10:15 am #

          Trep/liar: Dude….don’t out him with me. He is a great representation of what COPBLOCK has become. Yahoo exposed it to the public. Look nor farther than Pete’s video about te girl and curfew. At the 53 second mark….Pete included a “Most Wanted….Reward Offered” bit. Why is that there? Violence. Not just accepting and condoning it. Wanting it.

          You need to look at things as they are and not as what you want them to be. The call for violence o. This site is the commonplace thing.

  2. foxster July 23, 2014 at 6:49 pm #

    Know your NATURAL AND INHERENT RIGHTS. Number ONE, I am a non-statutory American, I AM NOT a “resident”, “person”, “individual” or any other entity which you assume to portray me as so you can get joinder, drag me into your jurisdiction which you do not have and never will. Number 2, you work for the corporate city/state of which I am not an employee or subcontract. My private property is mine and is not “registered” to transfer ownership to the corporate state. It is private and classified as a household effect under U.C.C. 9-109 and you have no authority to address me. If you do not know the legal speak and reference the Constitution, you WILL go to jail, you and I were never a party to that agreement, it does not apply to human beings, it applies to corporations and policy enforcement agents (cops) and restricts and prohibits them from overstepping their bounds of authority. Number 3, Man existed long antecedent to the creation of government, THAT which Man creates can never have jurisdiction or authority over the Man. If you make a cake, does it have jurisdiction over you? THINK ABOUT THAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Sikko July 23, 2014 at 7:06 pm #

      So, you’re a nomad, that’s the only way to not be a resident? If you’re not a person, are you an animal, vegetable, or a mineral? If you’re not an individual, are you a collective, or are you simply a figment of imagination?

      Man and government arose together. Man is a social creature, and as such requires certain structures to maintain cohesion and protection. The governments of early man consisted of the family group, and this later expanded to a larger extended family group, often referred to as a clan. This was followed by clans banning together to create tribes. All of these were and are forms of government, and have been necessary for the survival and growth of man.

      • majman92 . August 15, 2014 at 1:29 am #

        Government and cops aren’t the real problem. Money and corruption in the government are. Spending our already ridiculously high tax money to slaughter other humans and not help them goes against the principles in which we the people originally founded the idea. And these clans think of population as a menace rather than a person. Guilty until proven innocent, then covered up with lies, fueled by greed. That’s the problem.

    • t July 23, 2014 at 8:17 pm #

      Joinder. I really wish there were more of you sovereign goofs were I live. I love dealing with you tools. The lively chatter on the way to jail is awesome. And then come the letters signed in red crayon. To fun.

      • Trep July 24, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

        You are a sovereign goof yourself. Why don’t you, or anyone else, mention that LE properties enjoy sovereign immunity? As an extension LEOs enjoy qualified immunity. I don’t agree with sovereign citizens point of view. I also don’t agree with LE having the ability to hide behind a sovereign status either. If you are sovereign, why can’t a citizen be sovereign? No need to answer. It’s a hypothetical question.

        • t July 24, 2014 at 6:05 pm #

          Trep/liar: “LE properties”? What….are those?
          As for qualified immunity. You clearly need to read up on the subject. The police don’t have qualified immunity if they do some that’s off the page. You and others think that because someone got hurt while resisting arrest….or because someone was dound not guilty or a charge was dismissed….that you should be able to sue the officers. As has been beaten to death around here….arrests don’t have to be made at the BRD standard.

          Let’s use Pete’s recent video about the girl and the curfew. Now”….I am not a fan of curfews BUT I can understand it at times. Anyway….
          So the girl is out after curfew…..the police find her….and now the fight is on. Does the fact that she got hurt while she was fighting make it the police officers fault? From the video…it doesn’t appear that the officers did anything “off the page” wrong. As such….should they be sued for doing exactly what the public has asked them to,do?

          • t July 25, 2014 at 6:01 pm #

            Trep /liar:? Nothing about “LE Properties?

  3. foxster July 23, 2014 at 6:54 pm #

    Forgot one key point…. LEGISLATION IS NOT LAW!!!!!!!!!!!! It is corporate regulation, the ONLY authority ANY cop has it to deal with foreign or domestic COMMERCE!! Traffic is commerce, traveling is a right, there are tens of thousands of cases pointing that out. Statutes, code, ordinance are ALL regulations and DO NOT APPLY to human beings. FACT!

    • Sikko July 23, 2014 at 6:58 pm #

      Is it a fact? What evidence do you have to support your supposed fact?

      • t July 23, 2014 at 8:14 pm #

        Sikko: Did you decide to pull a “RAD” on him?

        • Sikko July 23, 2014 at 10:09 pm #

          Well, if it’s good for the goose, right?

          • RAD July 24, 2014 at 2:17 am #

            Yes, I would like to see one of these sovereigns explain how they reach these conclusions. From what it looks like they just base these opinions on opinions of other sovereigns. Kind of how lawyers/politicians/bureaucrats just base their legalistic opinions/assertions/conclusions on other naked assertions made by other lawyers/ politicians/ bureaucrats, but there’s no actual facts to support any of it.

          • t July 24, 2014 at 5:45 pm #

            RAD: Well have a conversation with yourself.

          • boo August 14, 2014 at 11:38 pm #

            I wish you had better sentence construct. I would love to have a intelligent conversation on this site, it seems to be impossible.

    • t July 23, 2014 at 8:13 pm #

      You go sovereign guy. That always works out well for you.

    • Common Sense July 24, 2014 at 7:55 am #

      The fringe! See it! The flag has a fringe!

  4. BornInZion July 25, 2014 at 3:17 am #

    In Texas, you are detained if you don’t feel comfortable to leave. You are under arrest when you’re restrained from leaving.
    Unless you are driving a motor vehicle, you may lawfully decline to give your ID (either documents or verbally) when you are detained.
    You must by law give your name, address and birthday on request if you are arrested.
    If you are acting lawfully, tell anyone who confronts you; “Leave me alone and stop harassing me!” Then shut your mouth. If a cop escalates and arrests you, state your name, address and birthday and shut up.
    You have rights, exercise them.

  5. BornInZion July 25, 2014 at 3:35 am #

    If you are stopped while driving, display your documents to the officer, don’t give them to him.
    Don’t open your mouth. You are not required to answer any questions.
    If you are a passenger in a car that is pulled over in Texas, there is no law requiring you to give your ID unless you are arrested. Nothing you say will help you or the driver, so shut up.
    From what I see on Cop Block, you all need to be more disciplined. Go back through the videos; listen to the dialog. Has anything any CBer said to an officer in a detention situation made it better?
    Control your mouth. You are here to document, not become a part of the incident.

  6. majman92 . August 15, 2014 at 12:09 am #

    You guys supporting violence are fake government officials or cops most likely. You know people CAN use logic and common sense right? School doesn’t brainwash everyone. One day cops advocate war on drugs aka people using drugs with no harm, to support police jobs, then you send army advocates to schools to target the youth at troubled times and trick them into killing for money. You cops not only love violence but condone and encourage it to keep your jobs going. Most police officers nowadays protect and serve their own interests not people and their interests. I know first hand how they work and I’m not impressed. I’ve been assaulted and violated for nothing too many times.

  7. majman92 . August 15, 2014 at 12:11 am #

    Just remember, we the people can only take so much shit. No one acts because they want peace. But when it goes too far, and it already has, but when it goes even farther, you can bet even good cops will revolt.

  8. majman92 . August 15, 2014 at 12:13 am #

    Do away with money and corruption, and we will find peace and discovery beyond our wildest dreams.

  9. majman92 . August 15, 2014 at 12:15 am #

    Think of what kind of world you want.

    • Mr. Jon August 15, 2014 at 1:15 am #

      Free of terrorism (Read: Cop-Free)

  10. majman92 . August 15, 2014 at 1:32 am #

    Government and cops aren’t the real problem. Money and corruption in the government are. Spending our already ridiculously high tax money to slaughter other humans and not help them goes against the principles in which we the people originally founded the idea. And these clans think of population as a menace rather than a person. Guilty until proven innocent, then covered up with lies, fueled by greed. That’s the problem. It needs to be addressed not covered up. If one unarmed kid is shot and not dealt with, anyone can be next. You included.

  11. majman92 . August 15, 2014 at 1:34 am #

    Money and power corrupt everything, even education.

  12. majman92 . August 15, 2014 at 1:39 am #

    Shoot one of us, you shoot all of us. Discrimination is a trait which should be forgotten permanently. Again I know there are decent good men in the police department. I respect them. I don’t however respect it when two large cops strangle a man to death who isn’t resisting, or with me search my whole car and backpack with no cause to find I had no drugs then claim it was because of the dice in my mirror. That’s not the law that’s a power tripper. Some trip on drugs some on power. Power is much more dangerous though when it’s abused.

  13. majman92 . August 15, 2014 at 1:41 am #

    Don’t argue against facts with opinions. Use logic not fear. Use your mind not your imagination.

  14. Mad Dabs August 15, 2014 at 2:24 pm #

    i have a way with words and i’m quite very white, no tats or anything and i can speak/ pretend to be a nerd with ease, usually i make it seem like i’m happy to see em, already have my ID/ MMJ card out before they can ask for it. usually throw it out there that they can search me or i’ll empty my pockets as i have nothing to hide and give em a big smile, normally they just say have a nice day sir before they even look at my ID, or they engage me in conversation just cus they like me and have time to kill. cops tend to like me so much that i’ve actually had a few ask me if i’ve ever thought about joining the force or the military ( FUCK NO XD ). even when i get the complete dickheads, they still tend to like me, and since i have my med card i always have a great story if they ask where i’m going ” to buy some weed officer :D “. my friend who had no divers license, no insurance, not even tags for her car, was pulled over while me 1 normal friend and 2 gang banger friends of mine were in the car. my one underage friend chugged his beer as they were pulling us over, the car was a smokey haze and we were all high as fuck and in the process of getting even higher. also none of us were buckled and we had just ran a stop sign as some trash flew out the window. when we were pulled over u already know i did all the talking and yes,t his one one of those instances where they asked if i had ever considered joining the force XD.in the end they said we shouldn’t be drinking and driving especially with open containers ( driver was obviously an easy DUI ) we need to buckle up,and mindful of our surroundings. we’re not kids anymore, n we gotta grow up a little bit. so, they let us grab our bud and our pipes back off the hood but they did make my friend dump the rest of his brew. me and my 4 mexican friends got back in the car and drove off. similar instances happened several times after and each time every1 shut up while my white ass did the talking and i completely saved their asses each time. the moral of the story? it’s just awesome to be a clean cut white dude with serpents tongue ( not to be racist, but cops really are racist )

  15. Edward Lewis January 4, 2015 at 2:01 am #

    I’m a little confused, as a citizen of the Great State of Alabama. You say “While you have to show ID in a traffic stop in Alabama (and most other
    states), according to Alabama law (2006 Alabama Code – Section 15-5-30)” but then go on to say ” law enforcement is only able to demand ID from a person that he/she
    “reasonably suspects is committing, has committed, or is about to commit
    a felony or other public offense”. By the logic of both, if he has NOT stopped you for an actual offense (let’s say it is a random or a roadside DUI stop), unless you are “under suspicion of having committed or about to commit a crime” must you provide identification? My reading comprehension says no. SS 15-5-30 appears to limit the requirement of identification to someone under suspicion. What say you?

  16. aretheyheretohelpordestroy August 4, 2015 at 5:59 pm #

    I was recently pulled over at 3:30am after having a few drinks with my friends however i was the driver so remained sober to drive. I was pulled over for an out headlight the officer got my insurance and ID then asked me to get out of the car to do sobriety test, even though i was pulled over for an out headlight… she said she thought i was drunk because my eyes were “glazed” looking. However i wasnt, i passed the sobriety test but when she asked me to blow into the breathalyzer i said its not necessary and i only lived 4 blocks away, and i promised her to replace the headlight and thanked her for letting me know it was out. I was arrested at this time and brought to the hospital for a blood draw (results back in 2 weeks) then 3p mins after the blood draw i had to blow and i blew a .056 (legal limit in WI is .08) im facing an owi chargr of my bloodwork comes back over…. im curious if when she asked me to get out of the car for the sobriety test if i used the “am i being detained or am i free to leave?” Line if she would left me alone. Any idea?

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