September 22, 2021

Article at Authory

You Have the Right to Remain Silent

Okay, after thinking through whether I want to stir this particular hornet's nest, I've decided to vent on this topic. I'm not going to name cases or names, just talk from the viewpoint of the law and the rights of individuals under the law. I don't want to argue with you about current events.

You have no legal obligation to cooperate with the police in finding a missing person. You have no legal obligation to offer up your DNA so you can be eliminated from consideration. You have no legal obligation to allow police into your home, for any reason, without a search warrant. If police show up at your door to chat and you feel like chatting with them, you can step outside and close your door behind you, no matter how much they try to persuade you that y'all would be more comfortable sitting down inside.

Police have all sorts of rights ordinary citizens don't have. For starters, they can lie to you with impunity. They can tell you they have evidence that you committed a crime, even when they don't have any evidence at all. They can follow you around at will. They can scoop up anything you toss in the trash and have it tested for DNA. If you let them inside your house, they can use anything they can see, hear, or smell in your house to try to get a search warrant, no matter how innocent the sources of the sights, sounds, or smells may actually be.

Police have plenty of other tricks up their sleeves to finagle from you the hair samples, fingerprints, and other potential evidence that can and could be used against you in a court of law. And, of course, nine times out of ten, if a cop attacks you or kills you in the course of investigating your connection to a crime, a prosecutor will decline to prosecute.

The compensating rights you have are to lawyer up, to shut up, to refuse to volunteer to help the cops, and to refuse to allow searches of your property in the absence of warrants. It must be acknowledged that there can be dire consequences for exercising those rights, especially if you are a person of color. And there has been a decades-long effort in the courts to erode American citizens' rights to be presumed innocent and to refuse to cooperate with police.

But when someone does lawyer up, shut up, and refuse to cooperate, insofar as the legal rights exist to do so, nattering on about how such actions "prove their guilt"—because a supposedly innocent person would have "nothing to hide"—just contributes to the loss of individual rights for everyone.

If you are serious about police reform, then do your part to force the police to do their job in ways that respect the rights of citizens to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

(Image: Hands in handcuffs, Pixabay.)