Be aware that the majority of police contact with individuals take place in association with cars and other motor vehicles. Your personal privacy is at serious risk in a motor vehicle. Therefore, be cautious about what you have in your motor vehicle or on your person while in one. In addition to the higher risk of police contact in motor vehicles, the courts provide less legal protection against searches in motor vehicles. Be careful what you bring into a car.
Police Contacts: Avoid Making Statements About Potential Criminal Activity
"You have the right to remain silent." Don't wait for a warning, just do it. When talking with police at a traffic stop, avoid admitting or commenting on potential violations of law. Do not lie. Repeat -- DO NOT LIE. Just say nothing, change the subject, or say "officer, I don't want to answer that until I have a chance to speak with my lawyer." If they try to put you on the defensive, avoid swallowing the bait, or the hook. Just remian calm. Don't make whatever is there worse by talking about it. If you are innocent, that is no guarantee of justice. Your words could easily be misunderstood or misinterpreted. The only way to prevent that is to remain silent.
Police Contacts: Do Not Consent to Any Searches
Ask yourself this question -- "if the police had a legal right to do it, why would they be asking for my consent?" Often, they are asking for consent to do something they have no legal basis for doing without your consent.
"Do you mind if I look around your car?" "Why yes officer, I do mind. I'd like to get on my way now, please." "Do you have something to hide?" "I'd really prefer you let me go on my way, officer." And so on. Avoid saying anything that could possibly be interpreted as consent.
Also, beware a claim by police of "consent by conduct," without words. Make no gestures that could be intepreted as consent. If police come to your home, do not allow them into your house. Instead, walk out your door, closing the door behind, to talk with them outside (if you are home).
Small Amount of Marijuana Is Not a Crime under Minnesota Statutes: Except in a Car
42.5 grams or less of Marijuana is a "small amount of marijuana" and is not a crime to possess, and cannot be the basis for an arrest; but can result in a civil infraction citation and fine if guilty. In a car or other motor vehicle, however, more than 1.4 grams IS a misdemeanor crime (unless in the trunk or similar area). See Minnesota Statutes Section 152.027.
More than 42.5 grams of marijuana can be charged as a Felony Crime in Minnesota.
Growing Marijuana can result in criminal charges, depending upon the quantity.
Avoid Having Police in Your Home
After vehicles, residences are the most common origins of a drug crime charge. Of course, it's best to avoid possessing contraband in your home. To reduce your risk, try to avoid police in your home.
Most often in drug crime cases, police came into the home as the result of a search warrant -- often based upon the claims of a "Confidential Informant." If police come with a search warrant, do not resist their search, but do not consent to any searches requested (Warrants are limited in scope of the search authorized); and, do not talk about anything. Even admitting you live there can be damaging.
After search warrants, the next most common situation is a police 911 call. It could be a "domestic" call; a loud party party; even a response to a suspected DWI driver. In one case, a homeowner left the door open, and police came in to look for an intruder, only to find a marijuana grow! Anything that could trigger a police visit should be avoided.
Vote for Legalization of Marijuana and Other illegal Drugs
Learn about the legalization movement, and the arguments for legalization. For me, the most convincing argument is that of Conservative Economist Milton Friedman -- that criminalization only drives the price up, making it profitable, which in turn increases distribution, which results in greater demand. A case in point is Holland (The Netherlands). There, where marijuana is legal, half as many people smoke it compared to the United States, where it is mostly illegal. So if the government truly wants to reduce hams caused by illegal drugs, it would remove criminal sanctions and fund medical treatment fully. This is the best long term solution.
If drug addiction, such as to Heroin, is a disease, then it should be treated as a disease with a "Public Health Model" solution, not under a "Criminal Justice Model" which only exacerbates social problems related to drug abuse.
If You Are Being Investigated or Charged, Talk to a Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you are being investigated by police or are concerned about this, it may be a good idea to consult a criminal defense lawyer, or perhaps even retain a lawyer for pre-charge counsel.
If you've already been charged, you need a lawyer as soon as possible. Do not say anything without consulting a lawyer first. Do not "play lawyer" with police. Instead, "play dumb" (quiet there!) and get a lawyer fast!
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