4 'Magic' Phrases to Use if Cops Stop You with Pot

By Phungushead · Nov 23, 2013 · ·
  1. Phungushead
    A lawyer's advice on how to assert your rights when it comes to drugs and the police.

    If you use pot you are a criminal.

    This is true [according to federal authorities] even in Colorado and Washington, where the feds continue to outlaw cannabis. This is also true in California and other states that provide medical protection. This means the police not only have the right, but the obligation to try and stop you (though state police cannot legally enforce federal law). Fortunately, you do not have to help them. The United States Constitution gives you rights that protect you during police encounters. It is the job of the police to find evidence of a crime. It is not your job to confess or help them. They get paid quite well, so please do not do their job for them. Your job is to do and say the right things to protect yourself and defend your rights.

    During a police encounter, the best case scenario is you will be let go with a warning or simple citation. The worst case is, you or someone you love will get hurt. No one should be the victim of police brutality, but it happens. Cops are jumpy. They are trained to be suspicious. Do not make any sudden moves they can claim were threatening. Be polite and respectful, even if the courtesy is not returned. Remember, the police do not have the final word and while they may be able to harass, intimidate, and arrest you, the real fight is in the courtroom before the judge and jury. But you must actually survive the police encounter first before you can win the battle in court.

    To win that court battle, your lawyer needs to be able to prove the police acted illegally and the evidence should therefore be thrown out. The goal is to get all the evidence tossed so that there is no case left against you. If you give police permission, your lawyer will not be able to argue they acted illegally and there will not be much s/he can do to defend you. This is why what you do and say are very important. Your lawyer needs you to say the “magic words.” These are words that limit what the police can do and will help your lawyer prove the police acted illegally.

    The Magic Words

    What are the magic words, you ask? The first magic words can set you free. Simply ask,

    “AM I FREE TO GO?”

    If they reply that you are free to go, then you are free to go. You may have to wait for the officer to finish the citation, but yes, you are free to go. If you are not free to go, then you must use the other magic words,




    You must use all of the magic words and use them in this order. You must memorize and practice the magic words. During a stop, the police will not always tell you your rights or help you understand them. In fact, they are trained to harass, scare, and trick you into giving up your rights. You have to be strong while they get in your face and insult you. They are even allowed to lie. Do not believe them. Say the magic words, follow police orders, and shut up!

    How Do the Magic Words Work?

    The first question, “Am I free to go,” clarifies if you are being detained or not. If you are being detained, the police cannot ask you questions without reading you your rights, just like on the TV cop shows. If they do not read you your rights, your lawyer can use this against them in court.

    The second statement, “I do not consent to any searches,” is critical. The cops are not allowed to just search you for any reason. They have to meet certain requirements like having probable cause or a warrant. Even if they have a warrant, they can only search within certain limits. For example, if the warrant is for plants, they cannot necessarily search drawers. But if you give consent, you are giving permission to search everywhere. Never consent to any searches! It will never help you or get the cops to go easy on you. If they need consent then they have nothing else against you so don’t give it to them. If the police think they do not need consent, they will go ahead and search after you say the magic words. Stand out of the way and be quiet while they search. Maybe they find something maybe they don’t.

    “I want to remain silent,” is one of the trickier magic words. The Supreme Court has declared that in order to use your right to remain silent, you must first speak up and say you want to remain silent. After you say it, the police are still allowed to continue to question and harass you. You must not speak up and if you do, you have to say “I want to remain silent,” all over again. For some reason, the Supreme Court thinks this is all very easy to do during a police encounter.

    Don’t worry. The last set of magic words are here to help. When you tell the police, “I want a lawyer,” they are not allowed to talk to you again until you have a lawyer with you. If they do talk to you and you accidentally talk back, your lawyer will be able to throw it out in court even if you forget to say “I want to remain silent,” after you talk. Asking for a lawyer is the ultimate legal block against the police.You do not need to ask for a specific lawyer or worry about paying if you cannot afford it. If you are arrested, remain silent and wait to get bailed out. At your first court date you can ask for a free lawyer.

    If a person says the magic words, but only cops can hear them, did they really say anything at all?

    Yes! There are ways to prove you said the magic words even if there are no witnesses other than the police. It is becoming common for police to record encounters. Also more and more drivers are using dash cams. Bystanders and onlookers are also allowed to video record police encounters. Your lawyer can find these recordings and use them to help you. Most importantly, make it known as part of your public reputation that you would always use the magic words with police. Constantly tell your friends and family about the magic words and how they should use them too. Carry stickers, cards, and other items with the magic words. Wear t-shirts with the magic words. Make the magic words a part of your life.

    What About Patients?

    Police encounters can be especially confusing for medical marijuana patients. Why did you go through all that trouble to get the right paperwork if you have to remain silent and get arrested? Well, you don’t. If the police stop you, you do not have to tell them you are a patient, if you grow, or where you get your medicine. You do not have to tell them anything! Say the magic words and let the cops do their job. If and when they find your pot, they should also find your patient paperwork whether it is a doctor’s letter or state card. Tape the letter to the jar or put your patient card in the baggie. You do not want to have to talk and explain your patient status to police or ask to get your paperwork from your wallet. Let the police figure it out.

    If the police ask you about your paperwork, you have to decide if you are going to talk to them. If they are trying to clarify and approve your paperwork, then maybe you want to answer their questions. If they disrespect your paperwork and ask you questions that don’t sound like they care about the law, maybe you don’t want to talk. You have to decide if talking will help or hurt you and it may not be so easy to tell. Once the police find your pot and know you are a patient, let them do what they are going to do, answer their questions if you think it will help, and then be silent. If you get a citation or are arrested, again your battle is in court and with proper documentation you should win.

    A Final Caveat

    The police cannot stop you for just any reason. They have to have evidence that a crime is being committed. That being said, the police stop people without any legal justification all the time. They stop people simply because of the way they look. This is called profiling. Racial profiling is rampant and young men of color know they can do everything right under the law and still get stopped. If you are profiled, it is a degrading experience, but it is one you can overcome by knowing your rights, using the magic words, and staying strong and silent. Once you are safe at home you can report the profiling to your local police watchdog organization or take official action against the police.

    Remember, the goal of police encounters is to survive and stay alive!

    November 21, 2013

    Lauren Vazquez
    Ladybud Magazine
    Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com/bikeriderlondon

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  1. rawbeer
    With all due respect, this being technically good advice and all, doing this kind of stuff really pisses cops off. When you're on the side of a highway in the middle of nowhere you do not have constitutional rights, you have whatever rights this asshole cop decides to give you. The last thing you want to do is piss him off.

    If you know for sure he's going to arrest you this may be a good idea, but if you play your cards right you can sometimes talk your way out of it. You have to get the cop to like you, basically, which is a tricky, tricky tightrope of psychological manipulation and it won't always work.

    I have seen people pull the NORML Bust Card routine on cops. And I have seen the cops blatantly violate their rights and joke about it while doing it. I have tried the search denial and been told they're searching my car anyway. Yeah you may eventually get off after dropping $10,000 on a lawyer. But who the fuck has that kind of cash to blow on lawyers?

    I have also seen people let go with recreational amounts of pot because they're polite to the cops, and treat them like the normal people they sometimes, rarely are. Even if you assert your rights politely, it pisses cops off and they look at you like a crook and then they want to nail you. You want them to think your just some normal guy or girl, just having a safe, good, yet illegal time. It doesn't always work to psychologically manipulate cops, but it's worth trying before you start getting all Bill Kunstler on them and their natural hippy-beating instincts well up from the deep recesses of their reptilian brains. Most cops were dickheads that didn't have many friends in high school. Make them feel accepted. Play them like the shitty fiddles they are, if you can. If it doesn't work, keep your mouth shut and start calling your richest friends from your jail cell.

    Good lawyers are expensive. Bullshit is free. It should always be your first defense against cops. Letting them know that you know your rights will make the encounter end swiftly with you getting arrested.
  2. Diverboone
    You are correct for the most part. You will not be free to leave until the officer returns any documents that he may have requested at the beginning of the stop and possibly a warning or citation. That act effectively concludes the traffic stop. With a short pause the officer may attempt to talk with you more, if you chose to the it's consensual. This is the point where you could state "officer I really need to get on my way, I have business to attend to, am I free to leave?"
    His answer will be the definitive point, where either you are allow to go or the traffic stop turns into an investigative detention. If you are detained it will be up to you to waive any Rights, and by doing so you take the risk associated with waiving your Rights.
    I have not in the past and will not in the future waive any of my Rights. This tactic has been in my best interest as it has resulted in multiple felonies from two different traffic stops that have been dismissed. You are correct, this type of defense is not cheap, but the alternative would have been much worse.
  3. whatstheproblem
    with all due respect there rawbeer, thats the attitude that as got the U.S. in the state its in when it comes to the power of "cops" and the lengths that some of those pigs will go to to get that arrest. "you dont want to piss them off". thats very nice of you considering that they dont have the same for you and they could give a fuck if this is gonna piss you off

    that lay down, do whatever, i dont want to make a scene, weak attitude that they prey on now. that is the attitude that has snowballed into now they feel they can do whatever they want cause most people are gonna back down and be the meek person getting bullied. most just dont know their rights which is really sad right there

    if everybody whether they are innocent or not, or standing on a deserted highway in the middle of the night just made these cops act according to how they are supposed to act by what the law says, they wouldnt have so much power. but we dont so we have given them that power.

    most people dont want to cause trouble or they are uneducated about their rights. citizens do have them you know. so instead of exercising our rights, we as people, who are a much stronger force than any facility in this country, have created this monster bully who can go around harassing and killing innocent people with very little consequences. Simply because we dont want to be that person that makes a wave.

    of course their gonna violate laws. we have given them the ok by bowing down and not standing up for our rights. its like a child. if a childs bad behavior is not corrected quickly and swiflty, the behavior not only continues but gets worse. they dont stop it on their own

    the forefathers bulit this country on some ideas that are just lost today. to question authority was one. why do you think "freedoms" are worded the way they are or the right to bear arms. that right is to arm ourselves against invaders, foriegn and here at home and the government if needed. they gave us rights that are just so washed out and blurred today. i bet they would all turn over in thier graves if they saw the state of things today.

    fuck the cops. every single one of them
  4. rawbeer
    No, what got the USA and every other nation on earth into this predicament is human nature. People in power will abuse that power. What goes in now in the USA is actually a significant improvement over what has happened in the past in many places, or continues to this day in North Korea, for example. Not that that excuses abuse of power, which are never okay. But if you have a police force, and/or a military, this shit's just going to happen.

    if everybody whether they are innocent or not, or standing on a deserted highway in the middle of the night just made these cops act according to how they are supposed to act by what the law says, they wouldnt have so much power.

    With all due respect, how in the fuck do you propose to make an armed man who feels he's in power over you act the way you want him to? This isn't a nice liberal moral discussion you'll be having on that deserted highway roadside, this is Tooth and Fang, same as it's been since we got our food with spears. If you really think ideas and words can make an armed lunatic who wants to force his power onto you just stop and say "golly, I didn't realize I don't have the right to sodomize you with this billy club, I'd better brush up on my constitutional law," why don't you go ahead and try it out, and see how far it gets you.

    You really think that just because the law says cops can't abuse your rights they won't? The fucking law, are you kidding me? Have you noticed how no one really gives a shit about the law, especially the people enforcing it? Yeah, we're also supposed to not steal and murder and rape and do illegal drugs and drive drunk or roll through stop signs and drive too fast. A lot of things are supposed to happen that don't.

    Look, I agree that cops do some nasty shit and when they do they should be made to pay for it. If they violate your rights and you get arrested and call your lawyer, do everything you can to fuck them back. But wouldn't you prefer to just avoid the jail cell completely? If you really want to get arrested and drop tens of thousands of dollars on legal fees just to prove some point that will be forgotten immediately after, be my guest. I don't have the time and the money. I'd rather just keep my mouth shut and politely let a cop do what he's going to do anyway.

    This just came up in another thread, and MrG's post sums it up perfectly. I'm just quoting the last paragraph but the hole posts is worth reading:


    I have lost count of the amount of potentially tricky situations I have seen people talk their way out of solely by being calm and reasonable and co-operating with the cops. Likewise, I have lost count of the amount of potentially tricky situations I have seen people talk their way *in* to by being agitated and mouthy and generally making a pest of themselves with the cops.

    If a cop stops you, be polite. Be calm. These people are paranoid and trigger happy, often for good reason. There's no need to push things. If you can tell the cop is going to fuck you over - it usually becomes pretty obvious fairly quick - assert your rights and then shut the fuck up. Silence is your best weapon.

    And if you get caught with drugs, guess what? You're breaking the fucking law! It kills me how people who are breaking the law get all assertive about their rights. You can disagree with a law all you want but when you break it, you break it. You don't have the right to transport illegal drugs. A lot of the shit cops do, in particular the shit they do to black people, is horrendous, but a lot of the shit I hear white people complaining about is silly.

    I'm not advising people to sacrifice their rights, I'm advising realism. Don't think for a second that telling a cop that you know your rights matters to him. He knows them too. Chances are he doesn't care, and he's got a gun. So unless you want to pull your own out and try to get 1776 on him, accept the position you're in and try your best to get out of it.
  5. Diverboone
    I would never advocate that anyone tell law enforcement that "they know their Rights" as this very statement can be used to form "probable cause".
    Knowing them is good, but asserting that you know them can very well be used against you. The less you say without drawing suspicion is a much better option.
  6. whatstheproblem
    it all starts from the beginning which we have let go so ya i think we can make a cop act according on this imaginary side of the road. are you being sodomized by police in your area. that is not good. i would report that.

    im not talking about people breaking the law. Why would I? im talkin about everyone to exercise your rights cause most americans have no clue what their rights are. i do try and and its got me pretty far. ive been in a cell but it was never just to prove a point.

    but your not getting what im saying and im too tired to breakdown your post with what i meant. maybe later. One thing though is its not human nature. thats beyond broad. you could literally say that about anything
  7. rawbeer
    Look, this is just a case of idealism vs. realism. Realistically when you and a cop are interacting, he's got all the power. Other cops, the courts, and even most other civilians will be on his side.

    that lay down, do whatever, i dont want to make a scene, weak attitude that they prey on now. that is the attitude that has snowballed into now they feel they can do whatever they want cause most people are gonna back down and be the meek person getting bullied. most just dont know their rights which is really sad right there

    Looking back I don't know where you got this all from my first post. All I said was that it's not a good idea to piss cops off, and if you deny that, good luck. If a cop stops you the best thing to do is be quiet and polite. Starting off by asserting your rights will put them on the defensive, and make them suspicious. That should be your last line of defense.

    Yeah, human nature was too general, point taken. But the reason cops don't respect people's rights is honestly because people don't respect their own rights. Look at all the apologists for NSA spying right now, everyone says they have nothing to hide. Sometimes I agree with the Fascist philosophy that most people really do just want to be led by an iron fist. I don't like to give in to that sort of thinking, but unfortunately I think it's the truth. about most humans. Freedom entails a lot more responsibility than subservience, and people don't like responsibility. Freedom actually terrifies most people.

    I don't see how you can make a dickhead with a license to bully people stay in line. You have to, to some extent, "play ball". I'm saying this from observing many police interactions. I've yet to see someone extricate themselves from a law enforcement situation by asserting their rights. I HAVE seen MANY people flat out bullshit their way out of a jail cell. I've seen drunk drivers convince cops to let them drive home. I've seen people with weed in their vehicle persuade cops to just take it and let them go. Every single time I've seen someone assert their rights they made the situation worse.

    Our legal system is a cynical, corrupt mess. Ideals are laughed away.
  8. whatstheproblem
    i like what you said there rawbeer and i can respect what your saying. because your right on certain points and i feel the same way. Especially the part about people not respecting there own rights. that is absolutely true and a sad fact.

    i wasnt saying you were weak in my post. i was talking about most Americans and what i meant was similar to the quote you had about not respecting there rights.

    it is so corrupt and everything at the top is connected to everything else. Not connected to good things either but dirty, evil things. people wonder why things are the way they are. but they want to remain ignorant. they dont want to look into it. this countries motto is, "well, what can you do," with a shrugg of the shoulders and it makes me sick. i wish i could be proud of my country but the last few years, especially after 9/11, i have a hard time figuring out how someone could be.

    if you actually think about it, we as a people have the power to do alot. we just dont want too. people dont want to stand out or stand up because of the fear that has been ingrained into them for generations.

    You know, you are right about the police thing. i just really have a thing against pigs. every run in ive had with them, starting with this pig giving me shit when i was 12 about not having a helmet, hasnt been good. i mean he really was out of line with me and i had such anger towards them after that. when i see a pig, i dont think he is here to help but here to find someway to get me in the back of that cruiser. but because i dont carry shit on me, im clean 99 percent of the time i see them.

    Except this one time, me and the lady were driving to get something to eat and we were both pretty fucked up. not drunk but kinda high from herb and i had just started on my norco road to hell. i knew what i was doing but under the influence you know. my towns kinda small so there want too many people on that road we were on. in fact no one that night. so im driving and sure enough this pig pulls up to a light im about to pass. im shittin bad here cause i know if i have to talk to him for any length of time or do some kinda test he is gonna take my ass in. pass him and he pulls behind me and hits the lights of course. im grab my info and he is walking up to the car and hits me with the flashlight. its this kid i used to know in high school that ended up being a pig. thank the Lord i was nice to this kid. he was neighbors with my best friend. sees my face and immediately goes "oh sorry, i thought you had a crack in your window." i didn't even have time to say anything before he walked back to his car and took off. oh thank god i said. thats been the only good encounter ive had

    every other encounter i have had confirmed to me that these are just armed bullies so if i can make life hard on a pig, im gonna do it. cause if im fucked, im fucked so why not make them have a shitty time. that was a big reason for me looking into my rights which, like you said, pretty much go out the window on that side of the road he has you pulled over on.

    no hard feelings man. i think we think the same on a few things. have a good one
  9. rawbeer
    You make some good points, and I can completely understand your hatred of cops. I used to feel the same way, growing up in the suburbs and getting hassled constantly by cops. But now that I live in a city with an unfortunately high crime rate, I've become a lot more sympathetic towards the police. The ones around me now don't have time to waste on minor offenders, they have murderers and rapists and crack dealers to worry about.

    In that thread I linked to there's a great point made about how cops are very different from place to place. I find the less cops have to do, the more dangerous they become. Cops that deal with actual crime all day long develop a much better sense of what people are actually like, and in my opinion are better able to read people and determine if they're dangerous and worth arresting or if they should just be sent on their way.

    I got stopped by a cop a while back after picking up a bike from my sister's garage. Someone saw me and thought I had stolen it. I pretty quickly explained to this guy what was going on, but somehow we wound up just talking for several minutes about life's irritations. The whole encounter really changed the way I thought about cops because I realized, this guy's a human being. He's been kind of warped by spending so much time around criminals, but he's trying to hold on to his sanity and humanity as best he can. Early in the encounter I put my hands in my pockets and in an asshole cop tone he told me to keep them where he can see them. I gave him a look like "really dude?" and he just shrugged and said "I don't know you." I understood what he meant, that as much as he would like to give me the benefit of the doubt, he can't afford to do that in his line of work. The more we talked the more I realized this guy is basically on edge all day long, every day. It seemed sort of miraculous to me he was able to remain as calm as he did once I saw things from his perspective. I felt sorry for him knowing how much stress he had to carry around all the time.

    I honestly think something that would solve a lot of problems with cops is to make every officer patrol a really, really shitty crimeridden area for a few months at least, to give them perspective. Suburban cops live in a dark fantasy world of 80's action movie clichés and don't realize how lucky they are, and how nice and safe their areas are. They whip minor crimes into grand paranoid conspiracy theories to justify the worthlessness of their jobs and feel tougher. These are the guys that are dangerous and stupid, guys who call arresting a carload of teenagers with a quarter ounce of weed a "drug bust" or breaking up a redneck fight at a gas station "violent crime." They need to really swim around in an inner-city sewer for a while, working with cops who put their lives at risk every day to try and make a bad situation slightly better.

    This topic gets pretty emotional and I apologize for being uncivil earlier in the thread, I think we both let our tempers go because this is such an inflammatory thing to discuss. It's infuriating how much abuse and corruption occurs in this world and how most people just shrug. I think your assessment of the USA's unfortunate motto of complacency is spot on. People like to insulate themselves into their world views, cops and civilians, liberals and conservatives, and the result is a nation of people hiding behind their walls of ignorance, lobbing judgments blindly out into a world that scares them so much they can't even begin to think of a sensible way to confront it. or even try to understand it. So they hide in fear and ignorance. It's easier to do than to confront the ugliness of reality, but it just makes reality even uglier.

    Anyway, I don't want to ramble off topic anymore. Dealing with cops is just a subset of dealing with other humans in general; it's really fucking tricky and there are no hard and fast rules. You just have to use your best, educated judgments and hope fortune smiles on you.
  10. whatstheproblem
    fuck man, your right again and your making me have some empathy for those piggys. DAmn it. before, ive wanted to hold on to my kinda immature hate of them even though i have thought of "how would i be if i had that job." the thoughts you made me think about is what they deal with everyday and most of that is the scum of cities. if there are dealing with that shit on the regular, they would have to be cocks just out of survival. Doesnt excuse the pig that harasses the soccer mom or little kid on the bike.

    Shit, when i put myself in those shoes, i think i would crack heads everytime i encountered someone just to be safe.

    I really liked your post man and there was no rambling there.(maybe we are going off topic but its a good sub catergory which is good). kinda bummed you ended it. rarely do i see someone with the same views on shit. most of the time if i talk to people about stuff like this, which isnt often, they either look very uninterested or give me a look like im some conspiracy theroy nut. which im not. i bring up facts to talk about, not what ifs
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