And I think you are being unbelievably naive. Would you prefer that I point to the post where pkbites says he can do it, or the countless videos where officers actually do it?
I’ll start here: officers get a call of a drunk driver. They walk into the walmart, pick someone who somewhat matches the description, and demand ID, which in Texas he has absolutely no obligation to provide. The man refuses, and they smash his head into a refrigerator and then arrest him. I mean, he had a choice, right? He could have just provided his license, after all. No legal obligation, of course, but the officers really wanted it.
It seems like a lot of you are super interested in sharing anti-police editorial opinions, which I frankly never thought this forum (GQ) was for. The factual reality is police are allowed to ask you questions. You generally don’t have to answer any of them other than identifying yourself (and even that is contextual.) I would wager 99% of the time if you just decline to answer the police officer’s generic questions, you will be sent on your way if they have no probable cause of anything more serious.
As to the scenario in OP, you could almost certainly just put “N/A” in the info card for social media account and nothing would ever be done about it.
I’m not sure how relevant it is that you can point to very rare circumstances, often at least in this thread, where a cop escalates to illegal activity, in response to not answering questions. That isn’t the norm.
As for the broad principle the police can lean on you to get information “you do not have any inherent right to obtain”, that is basically how we’ve designed our police investigatory system. There is a difference however between them being able to lean on you (i.e. by telling you if you don’t comply, they will arrest you for things that you’ve actually done, and for which they have every right to make that arrest) and them being able to cross into criminality. Anything beyond that would just be my editorial opinion, which I’ll keep to myself in GQ.
Kind of the same deal, OP asks about what police can do, answer is given factually. Then we spend 80 posts with people pointing to very rare scenarios in which police behave unprofessionally and illegally and suggesting that somehow that is intrinsically linked to actual legal police behavior. The fact that some police behave illegally doesn’t change the fact that police are allowed to ask you for information, and that you’re allowed to decline to answer. End of discussion.
I got it. In Martin’s world, every person acts the way they are supposed to. So the answer to the question, “can the justice system treat someone differently because of their race”, has to be no, right, because that’s the legal answer? Let’s ignore the factual reality on the ground, because those are just people behaving unprofessionally. To the extent that you have said a person has a legal right to decline to answer questions, I agree with you. What happens after that, you and I have a very different opinion of what is likely to happen. I do take your point though that it goes beyond the scope of General Questions.
The question was “what info can police collect without a warrant?” A warrant is a legal construct based on the U.S. constitution’s fourth amendment, with factual details available as to when a warrant is required and under what circumstances.
Commentary about what it is appropriate for police to attempt to collect without a warrant, is intrinsically a “political” or “editorial” opinion, it isn’t a legal or factual one. At least in the past GQ was a forum for the former, not for the latter–we have plenty of other threads talking about the appropriateness (or inappropriateness) of police behavior, and probably new ones will be created in due course. But for this specific scenario I’m not sure why we’re conflating what is appropriate with what is legal, the question is a legal question.
For the simple reason that people don’t interact with the police with a judge watching what happens. If a 18 year old male were to ask my legal advice on the following question: “If I get stopped by the police, and they want to know what my social security number and social media handles are, do I have to answer?” You are 100% correct, that the legal answer is “no”. But I would not be doing my job if I did not also say, “you have every right to say no, but understand, in a non-trivial percentage of situations, that will not be the end of the story.”
The situation I see a lot is that most cops in my area typically only charge the top count. If a cop arrests the guy for DUI, he usually doesn’t get hit with speeding, no seat belt, or having an open container as well. He gets charged with DUI only.
When I see a complaint where everything under the sun was charged, it is almost always because the driver told the cop to go get fucked. The cop has every right to charge everything he sees. The driver has a right to say nasty things to the cop.
But the in-between scenario we have does, arguably, in a certain way, “punish” a person for not being dutifully polite.
That’s interesting, because in my county it’s the opposite: the LEO will charge you with everything. The prosecutor will offer a plea bargain, wherein the lesser charges are dismissed in exchange for a guilty plea on the most serious charge. On a DUI charge, for example, the prosecutor will dismiss the seatbelt and turn signal violations in exchange for a guilty plea on DUI. YMMV.
If you want to assert the second in a GQ setting I’d think you should have to demonstrate some proof as to what that non-trivial percentage would be, so far all I’ve seen you reference in regard to that is one off anecdotes, and considering there’s something on the order of tens of millions of police interactions per annum, that’s pretty piss poor evidence of it being a non-trivial percentage.
The relevant question is not “how many police interactions are there.” The relevant question is, how many police interactions are there where a person stood on his rights and refused to answer questions. My guess is that in the overwhelming percentage of police interactions, people provide the information they are asked and they go on their way. There are clearly not statistics on this. Up until 2015, there was not even a database of people killed by police in the United States, and that only exists because the Washington Post decided to take the step. Likewise, there is no database of police arresting minorities for crimes they wouldn’t have charged a white person with. There is no database of police not writing tickets to other police officers when they are caught speeding or doing a 100 other things you and I would receive tickets for.
Feel free to think I am over stating the issue. The ACLU tends to agree with me.
"Being stopped by police is a stressful experience that can go bad quickly. Here we describe what the law requires and also offer strategies for handling police encounters. We want to be clear: The burden of de-escalation does not fall on private citizens — it falls on police officers. However, you cannot assume officers will behave in a way that protects your safety or that they will respect your rights even after you assert them."
I’d be really surprised if there are any states where publicly available records * reflect cases where prosecution was declined or where all charges were dismissed before a trial. My understanding of the issue is not that the arrest causes problems down the road but rather that a guilty plea to get the matter over with is what causes the problem down the road.
* By which I mean the criminal history available to say a potential employer doing a background check. For example , in my state most employers cannot obtain a copy of someone’s criminal history from the agency that keeps these records statewide. They can get records from the court system , but that wouldn’t include cases where prosecution was declined or cases that were dismissed and sealed.
So the TLDR is your claim that in a non-trivial number of cases if you assert your rights, you will face negative consequences, in fact is unsupported by any evidence which you are able to provide? Right–that’s called anecdote. Thanks for confirming.
I’ve had an interaction with the police where I refused a search of my vehicle and that was that. In a different situation I refused to answer any questions, preferring to talk to my lawyer first and that was the end of the “interrogation”; I was free to leave.
I can also offer a personal anecdote, I once told a police officer “I don’t consent to any search”, and he didn’t even have a reaction. He continued with the dialogue with me without skipping a beat, and took no negative action toward me at all.
I was arrested for driving without insurance and registration. I had moved to a new state about six weeks earlier and hadn’t got my registration, drivers license or insurance changed.
All charges were dismissed when I showed up in court with a drivers license, insurance and registration all dated a few days after the arrest and the lease agreements for my old and new addresses showing that I moved 47 days before the arrest. The states attorney was just shaking his head in disbelief that I had spent a night in jail over this.
The original reason for the traffic stop was because my passenger was not wearing a seatbelt. At least at that time in that state not wearing a seatbelt was not a valid primary reason for a traffic stop (I don’t know what the correct terminology is).
My mug shot appeared in a Google search of my name for over ten years, and my arrest record came up in my naturalization interview. So absolutely not zero consequences even if you ignore the unpleasantness of being in jail.
By the way in 35 years of driving in the US I do not have a single ticket. The only ticket I have ever gotten is a parking ticket.
Some non-anecdotal evidence:
“Stops, Searches, and Arrests Issues related to unlawful stops, searches, and arrests are one of the most common issues addressed by the 21 consent decrees included in this review, second only to unlawful use of force. Practices and policies related to unconstitutional stops, searches,
and arrests were covered in 14 of the 21 consent decrees.”
"Consent decrees include details on how officers should conduct themselves during
voluntary stops and non-custodial interviews including:
Introducing themselves by name
Confirming that individuals are free to leave - Informing persons being stopped that providing ID is voluntary
Informing persons being stopped if they are being recorded -Not using a person’s failure to answer questions or their efforts to end an encounter to justify an investigatory stop, search, citation, or arrest.
I acknowledge that 14 is not a large number of police departments compared to the actual number of departments in the country, but these are the departments whose actions were so egregious the DOJ had to intervene and sue the department.
That’s probably a good document for someone who wants to study police misconduct and police departments operating under a consent decree. It does literally nothing to establish the parameters or the specifics of your claim that declining to make voluntary information disclosures to police were going to be met with a “non-trivial chance” of some follow up negative action by the police officer.
I’ll also note your commentary remains out of line with the advice offered by professional attorneys, including the attorneys at the ACLU who specialize in matters of constitutional law and police misconduct. It is their opinion you should not volunteer information to police, and they do not feel it is a significant safety risk to refuse to volunteer that information.
It seems clear that you are unwilling to accept any evidence short of: there were x number of examples of people standing on their rights, and y number of people who experienced problems because of it. This is a ludicrous standard in reviewing any police interaction, for among many, many reasons, that no one collects this data.
I have also never once said that my advice to anyone would be to volunteer information. My advice to any client on every single police interaction, no matter how seemingly trivial, is to provide your license and then state, I will not be answering any questions, please let me know if I am free to go. If I am not free to go, please let me know when I am.
In the interest of completeness however, I believe I have to duty to explain “you cannot assume officers will behave in a way that protects your safety or that they will respect your rights even after you assert them,” which by the way, comes directly from the ACLU quote I provided above.
“and they do not feel it is a significant safety risk to refuse to volunteer that information.” Cite?
What you mean to say is I am not willing to engage in editorial police bashing in GQ. I actually have engaged in editorial police bashing in other forums, and for specific reasons. I just weirdly think the actual forum we’re in ought to have its rules respected. There’s tons of low quality repositories of information on the internet like Facebook and Reddit where I can find everyone’s opinion on politics, Donald Trump, BLM, AntiFa etc spewed out into every thread. In theory GQ has always supposed to stick to more factual concerns, and when the question is literally what can police collect without a warrant, there is a straight forward factual answer to that. It’s in poor form to mix in opinion with that, particularly when it invites people to argue that opinion and further move away from the intent of the discussion.