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Do you know your rights when arrested on pot charges?

If the police are arresting you in a marijuana bust, there are some important things to realize regarding your rights. Our Constution, and its Amendments, provide you with certain rights, but if you fail to exercise or otherwise waive those rights, it’s to your detriment.

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind should be common sense — don’t keep your weed out in the open where it can be seen. A rolling tray on the counter, a pipe or a joint in an ashtray, burning a joint while sitting in traffic all can get you busted. Out of sight? Get a warrant.

Don’t consent to a search. This is covered by the Fourth Amendment, so exercise this right if John Q. Lawman is pounding on your door. Be polite, but ask to read the warrant. It should also be noted that if the cops are banging on the door because they have a warrant to search for a stolen firearm, for example, they can come in and search places a gun could conceivably be. But if they pick up your pack of cigarettes, open it and spot a joint, this can be legally challenged because it is impossible to conceal a firearm in a cigarette pack.

Exercise your right to remain silent. You don’t have to tell the police anything or answer any questions. If they take you to jail, keep mum there. Converse only with your criminal defense attorney, who you immediately asked to call. Didn’t you? That’s your right, too.

Find out if you are free to go. Unless the police officer who stopped you arrests you or informs you that you have been detained, you can leave. But be clear on this. Ask straight out, “Am I being detained? Am I under arrest?” Barring a yes to either, you can leave.

Refuse to consent to warrantless searches. They may do it anyway, but that becomes a legal issue for your attorney to handle. Verbally state that you are refusing permission to be searched and wish to speak immediately with an attorney.

With all the police shootings of unarmed subjects, please realize the futile danger of physically resisting. It’s far better to get busted for possession of pot than wind up dead from gunshots.

Source: NORML.org, “Your Rights,” accessed Dec. 02, 2016

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