Annoying police by remaining silent

I’m not looking for legal advice and all answers to my query are accepted as non-expert and non-binding.

Hypothetical situation: You are brought into the local police station for questioning regarding a serious crime. In fact, you are not involved in the crime at all, you have no knowledge about who is involved and cannot provide any information that would help solve the crime. In addition to this, you have a rock solid, easily verifiable alibi for the time the crime was committed. In short, you can very easily stop the police from wasting time pursuing a fruitless investigative course (you) and force them to look for a better path.

But you don’t do this. You don’t like the police, have nothing going on for a day or two and don’t mind screwing them over and wasting their time. As a result you just deny involvement in the crime but otherwise choose to remain silent and answer no questions regarding your activities at the time of the crime or any connection they think you may have with the victim. At no point in time do you lie to the police. Only after several hours of questioning do you “remember” your alibi.

What are the legal ramifications of this? You hear lots of talk about charging less than compliant people with obstruction but I don’t believe that’s a credible threat in this case. In the U.S. officially, I believe that the police and the prosecutor would be limited to arresting you and tossing you in a cell for couple of days while they investigate your alibi at which point you would be released with no charges filed. Unofficially, I imagine the police would take a bit more interest in your activities for the next few months.

I’m mostly interested in answers from outside the U.S. but if you can correct my understand of U.S. law and the fifth amendment then by all means proceed.

You have the right to remain silent. That is your civil right, period.

You can act exactly as you describe above and there’s nothing the cops can do about it. Now, whether it’s a moral thing to do (wasting the cops’ time and effort) is another matter.

But it’s not illegal to be a dick as you describe. And most jurisdictions can only hold you for questioning for so long before they have to release you.

Or arrest you. But they’ll need some evidence (presumably from another source) to do that.

Well, there’s nothing the cops can do legally about it. But they can harass the snot out of you for a few months as payback - stop you for minor traffic infractions that anyone else would slide on, always be outside your place of work, stuff like that. It may be legal to annoy cops, but it is seldom smart.

In the state of Texas police have the discretion to arrest for any traffic violation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atwater_v._Lago_Vista

Not speeding.

Did hypothetical you explicitly invoke your right to remain silent?

Yup, you are right! Also open container.

http://blog.matthewharrislaw.com/index_files/TrafficOffenseArrests.htm

I have been a passenger in a traffic stop where the cop claimed falsely that the vehicle had failed to stay in the correct lane(a lie) and threatened to arrest the driver for it when permission to search the vehicle was refused.(which would then allow the officer to search the car to inventory it).

God bless Texas!

There’s a sound legal reason to do this. You know that “rock solid alibi” you have? The moment the cops know what it is, they will start trying to undermine it.

Suppose the crime occurred at 7pm, and you have an alibi that shows you were elsewhere until 10pm. The police will ask the witnesses if they were “certain” it wasn’t at another time when they observed the crime…

Suppose you have electronic logs : maybe your cell phone shows you were elsewhere, or you have internet logs showing you were home on the computer. If you have any technical skill at all, the cops will start trying to show that you “must have” faked the records. Even if they can’t find a shred of evidence showing you actually did fake the records, the prosecutor can state it as if it were a known fact at your trial and the jury will believe it. (see the Brad Cooper case for an example.)

The best use for an alibi is after the witness statements are all in, and at the right moment in time, as determined by an expert and expensive attorney, to unveil the alibi. The alibi is just another legal weapon to use in a battle for your life, which is what the legal process actually is.

Does not directly answer the OP but given the circumstances this is where you speak to an attorney and tell the attorney your alibi. Questions like this remind me of one investigator that targeted someone BECAUSE they had a rock-solid alibi. They were at a movie and according to the investigator, “Who keeps movie tickets unless you’re trying to establish an alibi?”

Then hooray for Fandango! Surely they keep sales records which would jibe with a credit card statement. With my luck, the transactions just before the movie ticket purchase would be for Amazon.com sales where I bought a brick of ammunition, 1 quart of petrolium jelly, 2 Kg of Tibetan pickled yak feet, and 37 feet of 1/4" rubber tubing. Pretty much no alibi could stand up to that.

If the police do in fact charge you with a crime, you may have a solid alibi. But you are still facing an unpleasant experience from the time you are arrested until you are released. You may have to spend some time in jail. You may have to appear before a judge. But whether they charge you or not, they may still then proceed to …

reading you your rights and then asking you, “Do you understand these rights I have read you”?

Why not answer them by saying “No!”? Since almost no one ever says that, they will probably be stymied for a few seconds and then ask you something stupid like, “What part don’t you understand”?

A suggested answer for that would be “the legal part”.

They may then ask you something else stupid and you can then answer by saying that you need to speak with a lawyer in order to have the legal part explained to you. If the police then volunteer to explain that to you, you could ask if they are lawyers and whether they are or not, you might tell them that you refuse to have them talk to you because that is a violation of your right to remain silent.

This will be prob followed by something stupid like, "No. If we talk it is not a violation of your right to remain silent because you won’t be saying anything. We will be doing the talking.

I would suggest you follow that by telling them it is a violation of your right to remain silent if they talk to you after you refuse to have them talk to you. If they say anything to that, you might just repeat whatever they say to the judge and you will tell the judge that you advised them it is a violation of your rights but they didn’t care and spoke to you (or with you) anyway.

If they tell you that you do not have to speak but they want you to just listen to them talk, I would suggest you repeat that is a violation of your right to remain silent and you will certainly tell the judge that you declined to have them talk to you but they did so anyway. The will probably then say something stupid to answer that (like it is not a violation of your right to remain silent) and you might just answer that by saying you think it is and you refuse to have them tell you anything and you will tell the judge whatever they say.

That should keep them busy for a while and should waste a whole lot of their time. That is after all, a good goal. You want to keep them busy doing shit that can’t get them any closer to an arrest or laying a charge. The goal is to delay them and make them waste their time. The more people who caused them to waste their own time, the less time they have available to arrest or charge people.

I would suggest that it is a mistake for you to have the goal of annoying the police. There is no point to that. A good goal is just to cause them to waste their time, to confuse them and to cause them to go back to the state attorney to get some advice what to do.

I think you should also know that if a cop asks you to do a road sobriety test, there is no law compelling you to go along with that.

I would suggest you maybe first off ask the cop to tell you where is the law that forces you to do that and then maybe ask them if there is a law or you have the right to refuse. Then, no matter what they say, I would say that I respectfully decline to participate in any road sobriety test.

I believe it is not compulsory for you to agree to do that. They have every right to ask you to do that. They have every right to ask you to jump up and down on one leg, to spin around and sing the national anthem. But won’t you feel stupid when you find out that you also have the right to decline.

I very much agree with whoever said it is not smart to annoy the police. They have a great deal of discretion in how they proceed. A reasonable goal for you is to waste as much of their time as you can. But you should always be very polite towards them and speak to them with courtesy and respect. It gains you nothing to annoy or anger them.

Your goal should be just to cause them to waste as much of their time as possible because the more time they spend dealing with your stupid bullshit, the less time they will have to arrest and charge people and from a legal point of view, those are the only two things the police can do within the legal parameters of their job. That is the only two things they can do.

It is a great bonus any time you can get the cops to contact one of the state attorneys and ask them questions about how they should proceed and waste their time. The more time you get the state attorneys to deal with your bullshit, the less time they have to prosecute people. If more people understood that and adopted that as a goal, the less harm that cops and D.A.s could do to people.

Pssst - Lazlo

See “Implied Consent” as a legal doctrine…

Just for jiggles, of course…

How do you, practically speaking, refuse to let someone speak to you? I don’t believe it would go in comic circles, I think they’d just start talking at you while they wait for your lawyer to get there.

Besides, doesn’t the right to an attorney only begin once you’re in police custody (meaning, arrested)? I don’t think you even have the right to an attorney for “just asking a few questions, ma’am.”

Just make all your responses in the form of a question.

THAT requires probable cause. First you go in voluntarily, if you wish, second if PC does not exist and you do not wish to go in voluntarily, yet they take you in anyway, that is an ARREST, period, regardless on how long you were held.

An arrest without PC violates the 4th AM.

Not if you went in UNvoluntarily, there is no such thing in the U.S. as taking a person in for “questioning/investigative detention” absent PC.

Ohio does not recognize Atwater, as an additional fact.

Just don’t be texting in the theater.
A purchased ticket is not evidence you were actually there, and for the entire movie.

You should know that this is GQ and you can’t just make things up. At the very least, refusal to consent to a field sobriety test will get your license suspended.