The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons and things to be seized.
The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America
This rap sheet has been prepared to help you stay out of jail.
In the past, Rainbow gatherings have been the target of police harassment, often illegal. Many brothers and sisters who have been arrested could have avoided jail time and expensive court dates if they had know a few of their basic rights. This rap sheet is a tool. Read it and understand it, and YOU will have the upper hand in the situation.
When heading toward a gathering, always assume you will run into a roadblock on the way in. It is very important to know your rights before reaching it because this is where the most coercive tactics and encroachments of rights take place.
Make sure your car is road-legal. No broken windshields, tail-lights, headlights, objects hanging from your rear view mirror, etc. Any of these will give them an excuse for stopping you, and you will be cited for any violations. Your driver’s license, car registration, and proof of insurance should be up to date and easy for you to find on quick notice. You may not need all three, as laws vary from state to state, but always assume you’ll need all three, and you’ll never have a problem.
Never consent to searches. Law enforcement officers are trained to intimidate people into consenting to searches. They may be ask you several times if they if they can search your car of person. Always refuse and you’ll be fine. This is your Fourth Amendment right. The only legal reason they have to search you without arrest is that they feel they are in danger of being attacked, which should not be an issue with Rainbows. At Rainbow Gatherings in the past, officers have been known to plant drugs in cars after consent to search is given. You can avoid this problem by refusing to consent. JUST SAY NO!
Never leave anything illegal “in plain view”. Anything inside your vehicle that is visible to an officer standing outside is considered to be in plain view. Although this does not give them the right to search your vehicle, they can confiscate the items and place you under arrest. They will still need to obtain a warrant to search the rest of your vehicle, but this will not be hard if they have found something in plain view. They my even attempt to say this is “probable cause” for an illegal search.
Always exercise your right of silence if you find yourself under arrest for any reason. Continue to refuse to allow any searches, and politely inform them that you will not say anything until your attorney is present.
Write down all the information you can about the incident: the officer’s name, rank, and badge number, and the date, time of day, and location, etc. Contact one of the organizations at the end of this page to pursue the matter, or file a complaint with the officer’s superior.
It is important to remember a few thing about police officers. One is that they are aware of your rights and have been known to intentionally violate them. If you find yourself in a situation with an officer who is out of control, it is best to be submissive in order to avoid injury or even death. Remember that they arearmed and dangerous!
By refusing to consent to a search of your vehicle, you are maintaining your position. They may still get impatient and search without a warrant anyway (which is illegal). If this happens, anything they find will not be accepted by the court because it was evidence obtained illegally.
If you are stopped by an officer while outside of a vehicle, your contact with him or her will fall into one of three categories: consensual contact, detention, or arrest. We are mainly concerned with consensual contact and detention, as this document is intended to help you not get arrested.
Consensual contact means the officer comes up to you and says, “Can I talk with you?” If you say yes, you have consented to contact with the police. This is not good. When you consent to contact, you waive some of your rights. If you think you may be guilty of anything, never consent to speak with an officer.
Reply with something like “I’m sorry, I’m in a hurry, and I don’t have time to talk right now.” If the officer insists, ask, “Are you detaining me? Am I free to leave?” You should ask this several times to make sure the officer remembers you asking if the encounter does result in an arrest and court case. If it is reall a consensual contact, the officer is requierd to let you go on your way if you ask. If you don’t verbally ask to leave, the court will presume you consented to anything that follows.
The police are only allowed to detain citizens when there are “Specific and Articulable Facts (SAFs) supporting suspicion” that you are involved in criminal activity.
This means they can’t detain you “on a hunch” They must have observed something about your behavior or character that links you with specific criminal activity. If you are detained without SAF, you are detained illegally. If your encounter ever lands in court, you may be able to get off because their original detention on their part was illegal.
When you use terms like “detention” and specific and articulable facts”, the officer will usually back down a bit. The majority of a corrupt police officer’s power comes from intimidation and preying on the public’s ignorance of its own rights. It is crucial that you let the officer know that you are not consenting to talk with him, and that the only way you will talk to him is if he detains you, which he cannot do without SAF.
If you find yourself under arrest, there’s not much left you can do. Your body will be frisked and your pockets and bags will be searched. It is important to consider refusing to consent to searching your vehicle (if there is one involved), as they will still need a search warrant for it. This, however, will not be difficult to obtain now that you are under arrest.
These are the basic rights you have when involved with the police. By exercising these rights and using a little common sense, you should be able to have a safe and happy gathering. Below are some legal contacts you may need if placed under arrest: