“Know your Rights” they say! I have heard this statement far too often, and finally I began to actually think on it instead of dismiss the idea.
I asked myself, “Do I know my rights?” “How many do I have?” “Where can I find this information?” “Do my rights change?” “…. I think they are the amendments, but then what are the Bill of Rights and how are they different from the Constitution?”
I … at 23, did not know my rights, so I began to wonder if my counter parts knew theirs and they didn’t. This fact inspired me to do my research, not just for myself but for my brothers and sisters. This information is needed more than ever and can not only save our lives but possibly some jail time.
If not us, then who? Me, I got you.
So to not take away from the purpose of this post, I am going to jump straight into it.
This is the MEAT. The Need To Know.
Your rights belong to you, not to the government, so essentially the amendments are to protect you from the government.
1st Amendment: Means that congress cannot establish an official state religion therefore we can exercise any belief we choose. It legally gives us our freedom of speech, freedom of press (the freedom to report news without being controlled by the government), the freedom to assembly (gather in groups for a common purpose) and the freedom to protest government actions that we do not agree with.
2nd Amendment: Gives citizens the right to keep and bear fire arms for the protection of our persons, property and individual liberty.
There are more specific laws that vary between each state. If you carry, KNOW YOUR SPECIFIC STATE LAWS.
3rd Amendment: Protects the right to not have the government force us to house soldiers in our home against our will during “peace time”. Our 3rd amendment only allows them to do so in times of war. This might be the least litigated law, however I didn’t want to skip over it.
JUICY STUFF FOLLOWS!
4th Amendment: protects citizens from unreasonable search and seizure. The government may not conduct any searches without a warrant, and such warrants must be issued by a judge and based on probable cause.
If you are pulled over and asked to be searched, it is YOUR RIGHT to respond “I do not consent to searches.” You cannot be penalized, I repeat you cannot be penalized for not consenting. It is YOUR RIGHT! If you say no, and they do so anyway, they (the police) must prove in court that they had probable cause (reason) and you and your attorney can fight against that claim.
Do not say aloud “fine go ahead and search me” but follow their instructions. By saying “fine go ahead and search me” and leaving it at that, you then legally have given permission.
It is best to say “I do not consent to searches” as a full statement because they (the police) may try to trip you up and ask “Do you mind if I search your car?” by responding “no” leaves room for misinterpretation.
No you don’t mind? Or No you don’t consent?
Say you forget this wording, and or get nervous and just respond “no” and they ask you to get out of the car so they can search you and it… You can withdraw consent at any time. It is never too late to say “I do not consent to searches” Again if they do continue, deal with it in court.
If you are a passenger in the car of someone who gets pulled over, and the driver consents to a search (which they shouldn’t) you can speak for yourself and say “ I do not consent to searches”. Never leave your personal bags in the car once you exit. Ladies take your purse with you, Men take your bookbag/ fanny pack with you. If he or she tries to stop you , say that the property is yours and you do not consent to be searched.
After doing my research, it was advised to never give consent to be searched, whether there is something to be found or not simply because it is YOUR RIGHT. We should never waive our rights, and the truth of the matter is…a search is done to incriminate you, not to help you be free.
This next statement is your 5th Amendment and 6th Amendment included in one.
“I am not answering any questions and I want to speak to an attorney.”
5th Amendment: provides that citizens not be subject to criminal prosecution and punishment without due process (fair treatment). Citizens may not be tried on the same set of facts twice, and are protected from self-incrimination (the right to remain silent). The amendment also establishes the power of eminent domain, ensuring that private property is not seized for public use without just compensation.
The right to remain silent.
6th Amendment: assures the right to a speedy trial by a jury of one’s peers, to be informed of the crimes with which they are charged, and to confront the witnesses brought by the government. The amendment also provides the accused the right to compel testimony from witnesses, and to legal representation.
The right to have a lawyer present.
Whenever you are asked “Do you know the reason you are being pulled over?” ALWAYS SAY NO. Never incriminate yourself. Legally all questioning is supposed to cease, however they may continue.
You can always exercise your right to be silent because if not you can dig yourself into a deeper hole. EXAMPLE: Getting caught with weed is a misdemeanor, but saying something as small as “I was just taking it to a friend, he or she left it in my car” now turns your charge into a felony because you are now found in possession with intent to distribute. You never tell the police that you have smoked marijuana, taken any prescription medication, drank any alcohol or used any other kind of drug any time in your life. It is not their business. They are not your therapist. It can and may be written in the police report in a manner that criminalizes you.
Exercise your right to remain silent.
Tell the truth, that you have nothing to say and want an attorney present. That is the truth.
Even if you have nothing to hide.
The last statement I’m going to cover for this post falls under our 4th Amendment.
“I do not agree to stay here with you for any reason. Are you detaining me or am I free to leave? . A police detention is a seizure of the person. If it is unreasonable, it violates the seized person’s Fourth Amendment rights. If it violates the Fourth Amendment, it is unlawful.
Remember YOUR 4th Amendment protects you from unreasonable search and seizure. The government may not conduct any searches without a warrant, and such warrants must be issued by a judge and based on probable cause
Do not voluntarily offer to stay around with the police for any reason. Not for them to get dogs to search, not for them to ask more questions, for no reason at all.
Unless you are being detained you don’t have to give an ID.
Always assert your rights. Do not waive your rights .
All of the statements suggested for use when interacting with police is supported by our constitutional rights. However use YOUR discernment in any situation.
Some answers to the questions I asked myself before doing research:
There are 27 amendments of the United States Constitution .
The US Constitution was written in 1787 and ratified (approved) in 1788.
On December 15, 1791 the Bill of Rights was also ratified with 10 amendments.
The first two amendments in the 12 that Congress proposed to the states were rejected: The first was concerning apportioning representation in the House of Representatives; the second prevented members of Congress from voting to change their pay until the next session of Congress. The original “Second Amendment” though rejected at first was finally added to the Constitution as the 27th Amendment, more than 200 years later. Originally proposed Sept.25th, 1789. Ratified May.7, 1992.
Study this information, be in the know. If you are interested in me going over the rest of our rights leave a comment!
Love yours, Courtney B.