Firstly, I state that I have nothing against police doing their job as law enforcers. However, I have every objection to police being used as tax collectors for rapacious governments and I have every objection against police who manipulate their power and authority to secure convictions.
The issue of not ever talking to police does not just have relevance to motorists, but is important to all citizens. Although we need police to maintain law and order, in many cases the police can cause innocent people a lot of grief. If you are involved in any sort of incident, from being pulled over for a simple traffic infringement to being a suspect in a murder investigation, talking to police will never ever help you.
Please watch this famous, very informative, addictive and often amusing video clip. It is 48 minutes in length, but it is not only vital for all motorists and indeed all citizens to understand what US Law Professor James Duane and his guest, Virginia Beach police officer George Bruch are saying about not talking to police under any circumstances. Obviously the information in this video clip is based on US law, but literally everything that Professor Duane and his guest say pertains to Australia.
Every person who is concerned with his well-being, liberty and safety should watch this video from beginning to end and most importantly, take heed of every suggestion that the learned professor and the policeman offer.
In March 2013, the NSW government passed legislation removing a person's "right to silence" when being interrogated by police. Strictly speaking, this is not exactly the removal of this fundamental legal right, but it allows judges and juries to take a negative view of people who exercise their right to remain silent. People can refuse to talk to police, however courts can use this against them, instead of respecting their right to not incriminate themselves or anybody else.
This is yet another erosion of fundamental human and legal rights, however people still should always remember that it is far safer to not say anything to police, rather than say something that will be used against them in the future, even if courts view this negatively. As US Professor James Duane and Virginia Beach police officer George Bruch demonstrate in their video clip, whether you are a suspect or just an innocent bystander, there is absolutely no benefit in talking to police - ever.
People who are defending a charge in court and have refused to talk to police should immediately protest if the judge directs the jury to view this negatively. They should insist on playing James Duane's video to the jury and explain exactly why they refused to talk to police and direct them to observe the reasons for this position, that James Duane points out. They should tell the jury that they should not be viewed negatively merely for upholding their fundamental legal right to silence, as well as their right to the presumption of innocence, both of which have now been violated by the NSW government.
None of this is rocket science. The most important thing is to not give police any pretexts to book you. Take a few simple precautions and the cops will have no reason to fine you.
For instance, police have a field day with so many motorists who drive without having their driver's licences with them. Although cops can immediately perform licence checks by radio or data link from their vehicles or walkie-talkies and don't really need to see the licence, the offence of not having a driver's licence in their immediate possession gets thousands of motorists booked every year. This is another wonderful revenue-raiser for the regime, because not carrying a licence is not a safety issue at all. So always remember to carry your driver's licence and don't give the government another opportunity to take your money from you.
Police will look at your vehicle and try to find defects. After all, even if there is nothing drastically wrong with your car, a cop will try to book you if one of your lights is not working. This is most unfair, because very few vehicles have an indicator or circuit that warns that a light globe has blown. Even if you check your lights before you drive out, that globe can blow along the way and you have no way of knowing, apart from possibly seeing that a headlight is not working from the lack of light on the road ahead. As for tail and brake lights, there is no way that motorists can continually check that they are functioning while they are driving.
So if a cop tries to book you for having a defective tail, brake or turn light, state for the record that you checked all your lights before you drove out and that there was no way that you could know that one of your lights blew out during the trip. The cop has no way of disproving this. The way to make it convincing is to firmly state to the cop that you check your lights prior to driving and you should refuse to describe to the cop how you do this. Stick to your guns on this and don't ever admit that you didn't actually do it.
Make sure that you record the conversation - in fact you should always record any encounter with police. That way, if a cop books you for having a defective light, you can take the matter to court and state that you did check your lights before you drove out and that the light must have blown on the trip. A magistrate would have to be rather dim to uphold the fine and you would have more than adequate grounds to appeal on the grounds of unfairness and miscarriage of justice.
Cops are really enforcing uncovered loads, because they are so easy to spot. So cover your exposed load with a cargo net or tarpaulin. These devices are not expensive, but you will avoid being booked for having an unsecured load. Using a cheap cargo net will avoid getting an expensive fine.
There was a case in Queensland some years ago where a driver was pulled over by police for allegedly using his mobile phone while driving. He denied it, however the police constable seized his mobile phone and searched his phone log in order to see if the motorist had indeed made such a phone call. The court deemed that that was illegal, as the cop did not have a search warrant.
Police have a general power of search and seizure, which is broadly defined with few safeguards. A police officer has the power to stop, search and detain anyone reasonably suspected of having drugs or anything dangerous or unlawful on their person. A warrant is not required and is almost never used in practice. The only basis required for a search is a reasonable suspicion held by the police officer.
However, police must have reasonable and factual grounds to suspect that a crime has been committed before searching a person or his car or premises. In the case of motorists, illegally talking on a mobile phone is a summary offence and no grounds for police to seize and search a motorist's phone to examine the phone logs. There are no reasonable grounds for police to search a motorist's car unless there are factual grounds, such as prior information that the motorist is a known drug dealer or similar.
So if you are pulled over by police, immediately get out of your car and lock it and start recording the encounter. Never hand over your mobile phone to any cops and object strongly if they try to take it from you and never let them search your car. Demand that they produce a search warrant or demand that they state whether they have reasonable grounds to do this, because police must have reasonable grounds for search and seizure without a warrant or the search will be deemed illegal.
You should ask the police if you are under arrest. If they state that you are not under arrest, under common law and verified by a number of court precedents and judgements such as those made by the Full Bench of the Northern Territory Supreme Court, Justice Stephen Kaye of the Victorian Supreme Court and Justice Duncan Reynolds of the Victorian County Court, they cannot detain you and you can merely drive off.
In regard to mobile phones, one of the best things to do is to set up your mobile phone to have a passcode that is required to turn it on. So if a cop demands your mobile phone and you are forced to hand it over, make sure you switch it off. If a cop demands that you disclose the passcode, tell him to get lost. Most importantly, set the security option that will wipe all data from the phone after a certain number of failed passcode attempts. For instance, an iPhone can be set to wipe all data after 10 failed passcode attempts and it is highly unlikely that a cop will enter the correct passcode out of the 10,000 possibilities before the phone wipes its data. But don't worry. When you get your iPhone back, you can restore everything from the backup on your computer if you have synchronised the phone to it, which you should do every day.
The thing to remember is that police lie to people whom they apprehend or pull over and they do it all the time in order to extract admissions. So a cop who gets hold of a person's mobile phone and find that it is locked by a passcode can say things such as, "If you cooperate and tell me the passcode, it will go better for you" or "a judge will go easier on you" or some other blatant lie, then that person should always refuse to reveal that passcode under any circumstances. Even if a magistrate or judge orders a person to reveal his mobile phone's passcode, that person should assert his constitutional right to not incriminate himself and refuse to do so.
Most law-abiding people think that they have nothing to fear from police and make the colossal mistake of literally inviting them to make searches of their properties, their cars and their bodies. This is a very deadly mistake and has led to many people being convicted of offences other than the ones the police were investigating. Here is one instance where I, a completely innocent person, could have easily been wrongly charged and convicted for drug offences because in my ignorance at that time, I let a couple of cops enter my residence for no good reason.
It is not a crime to refuse to talk to the police. It is not a crime to refuse police entry into your premises or your car without a search warrant. Of course police can enter premises or search cars if there are reasonable grounds, but they have to really go out of their way to prove it. For a motorist, an admission in a remark to a cop who has pulled him over could be enough justification for that cop to search their cars and maybe find something that could result in serious charges. That is why motorists should never say one word to police if they have been pulled over, apart from their names and addresses. Failure to answer police questions is not a reasonable ground for police to search cars.
For instance, under the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 (NSW), the police do not have powers to stop, search and detain you without a warrant unless they suspect on reasonable grounds that you have in your possession or under your control anything stolen or unlawfully obtained, or to be used in connection with the commission of a relevant offence or you have in your possession or under your control in a public place a dangerous article that is being or was used in connection with the commission of a relevant offence.
So the best thing to do is to never allow police to enter your premises without a warrant under any circumstances. Never let police search your car under any circumstances. Never let police search your body under any circumstances. We do not live in Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, North Korea or under any other totalitarian communist regime. Police have to justify everything they do and citizens have the right to resist unjust violations of their liberty and privacy.
This may sound ridiculous, but it is truly amazing how many people actually confess to committing offences, often without realising it. Police are taught to entrap motorists and obtain admissions from them that they can use in court if motorists decide to fight bookings. Cops may appear to be friendly and their questions may sound innocuous, but you better believe that those questions are asked in order to get motorists to admit that they were infringing the law.
When a policeman pulls a motorist over, he will most probably ask a few questions that sound quite normal and innocent, but they are anything but that. Those questions are designed to get motorists to make admissions that can be used against them and many motorists who contested their speeding tickets in court were quite shocked when cops testified that the motorists admitted that they were speeding and they did not even realise that they had done so.
Here is a classic example of a motorist convicting himself out of his own mouth after being pulled over by a cop:
In the above scenario, the motorist has confessed to breaking the law by his own admission that he was speeding. In other words, if he thinks that the cop's speed gun was defective and he wants to fight it in court, he doesn't stand a chance. Because no matter what might be wrong with the cop's speed gun, the motorist has actually confessed to speeding at 5 kph over the speed limit.
The cop will merely get up in court and say to the magistrate, "Your worship, the defendant stated to me that he was driving at 65 kph in a 60 kph zone." And that's the end of the matter. The issue of the speed gun won't even be a factor in the case because of the motorist's confession. However, if the motorist had just showed the cop his driver's licence and stated that he had absolutely nothing to say, the cop would have no evidence to present, apart from his own testimony about the speed gun.
Then if the motorist set out to prove that the cop's speed gun was indeed defective, then he would stand a chance of success. Even better, he could destroy the cop's evidence with the data from a car black box recorder if he was smart enough to have one. But if he had admitted that he was speeding, even the black box data would not save him.
The one sure way for you to not provide incriminating evidence to police is to not say anything to them. All you have to do is to provide the obligatory information, such as name and address, produce a driver's licence and if required, submit to a breath or drug test. So in the same scenario as above, a typical encounter with a cop pulling a motorist over for an alleged offence should go like this:
This is the most important thing for you to do, to let the police officer know that he cannot detain you without reasonable grounds if he does not arrest you. After the cop asks you the usual barrage of questions to try and get you to make admissions and you answer by stating that you do not talk to police, the next thing you should say is "Am I being detained or am I free to go?" And you should still be recording the encounter on your smartphone or video camera.
If the cop says that that you are free to go, just get back into your car and drive off. However, if the cop says that he is detaining you, then you should state to the cop that he has to have a very legitimate reason to do this, otherwise he is breaking the law by detaining you without reasonable grounds and without arresting you and that you will take strong legal action against the cop. So the conversation should go something like this:
This is how the smart motorist would deal with the cop. The fact is that police do not have the power or the right to detain anybody without cause, therefore the savvy driver will merely keep asking the cop whether he is being detained. If the cop states that the motorist is being detained, then the motorist should demand a legal reason for this. If the cop does not state a legal reason for detaining the motorist, then the motorist should just tell the cop that if he is not being detained and he is not under arrest, he is going to drive off. If this has all been recorded and the cop then tries to detain the motorist or arrests him for leaving, then there are more than adequate grounds on which to prosecute the cop.
In such a scenario, the cop may demand that you stop recording and state that it is against the law to do so. But of course that is not true and you have every right to record such incidents in public places. Police don't like it when evidence is gathered against them and will often try and stop this happening, but motorists need to have every weapon in their arsenals to protect themselves against unjustified bookings and bad police behaviour.
Most importantly, do not mention to the cop that you have a car black box recorder that has gathered the evidence of the booking. This can be one of the surprises that you produce in court to blow the prosecution case apart. However, you should carry a copy of the legal rulings regarding recording in public in your car and produce them to the cop and tell him in no uncertain terms that he has absolutely no right to tell you to stop recording or to even detain you without reasonable grounds. This document is on the Downloads page or it can be directly accessed from this link - Police Powers. Print it and keep it in your car at all times.
Motorists tend to try and be friendly to cops who pull them over, thinking that if they admit to driving slightly over the speed limit, the cop will let them off. Nothing could be further from the truth. Cops are usually nice guys anyway, but motorists always have to keep in mind that these days, the prime role of police on the roads is to act as the government's tax collectors and their role is to tax motorists by entrapping them whenever they get the opportunity. So don't think that the cop who pulls you over is your buddy because he is acting friendly towards you. Be polite and say nothing and admit nothing.
As well, most police cars are equipped with video and audio recorders and in such cases, every person who is pulled over is being recorded. The cop cannot afford to risk his job by letting a speeding motorist off the hook and be recorded doing so.
Never believe the utter crap that police ministers and police commissioners routinely spout that police don't have a booking quota system. Many police have stated publicly that there is a booking quota system, but even if it is not an official policy, police such as Highway Patrol are judged by their superior officers on the basis of performance, which is often measured by the number of infringements they issue in a certain period of time. A Highway Patrol cop who comes back to the station every day with an empty infringement book is not going to get any brownie points from his boss or improve his promotion prospects.
So if you are pulled over by a cop, always be polite, but NEVER EVER say or do anything except what you are required to do. You are required to produce your driver's licence, state your name and address and submit to a breath or drug test if asked to do so. You are NOT required to volunteer anything else. But if you do, it can be used AGAINST you. Remember this - the cop will not collect information that can be used FOR you - only evidence that can convict you of an offence.
Never forget one thing - police are the government's tax collectors. Like speed cameras, police are there to raise as much money for the government as possible. These days governments rely so much on traffic infringements as a major source of revenue, that some politicians have even blatantly stated that traffic infringements are a form of taxation and that is an utter disgrace.
In fact in June 2012, NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell said the 12.5% increase in traffic fines was not simply revenue-raising because the money was going towards road safety programs. "It's an area of taxation that can be avoided if people stick to the speed laws," he said. Note his words - "IT'S AN AREA OF TAXATION!"
So just remember that every cop that pulls you over to give you a ticket is a tax collector and therefore you should NEVER EVER give that cop any sort of statement or make any sort of admission that will make it easier for him to collect that tax - your money. Anything you say can and will be used AGAINST you.
It is legal to take photographs or videos in a public place without asking permission. This extends to taking photographs or videos of buildings, sites and people, including police. There are no publicity or personality rights in Australia and there is no right to privacy that protects a person?s image. There is no tort of invasion of privacy in Australia.
Every modern smartphone has audio and video recording capability, so whether it is at your home, in the street or at your vehicle, record everything to do with your dealings with police. As soon as a cop shows up to question you or he has pulled you over in your car, grab your smartphone and start recording everything.
Hit the record button and say the following:
Keep recording the entire conversation with the cop and also describing anything he does. If the cop asks you to stop recording, refuse and state that current laws allow recording in public places as long as one of the parties is aware that the recording is being made. Also, the Surveillance Devices Act 2007 permits people to make recordings to protect their lawful interests. We don?t need permission from cops to do this. They may not like it, but they can?t stop us.
Of course this will most probably annoy the cops severely, but who cares? The point of the exercise is to protect oneself against being booked unjustifiably, being searched without cause or being verballed by a cop, which happens far too often. You have every right under the law to do this.
It is a real indictment on our society that citizens have to go to such measures to protect themselves against their own government and police force. However, spending one day watching local and district court matters will prove to you that nothing beats hard evidence when it comes to protecting yourself.
In a court case where you are the defendant, your verbal testimony may go some distance with the judge, but as the old saying goes, one picture is worth a thousand words. Hard evidence beats any amount of storytelling from the prosecution or the defence and a time and date-stamped photo or video recording will prove beyond doubt exactly what happened. The data from a car black box recorder is the real nail in the coffin of an unjustified prosecution.
But the most important thing is to never make any statements or admissions about anything. Of course if you do want to make statements and admissions, the trick is to first get a signed statement of immunity for any offence that you have ever committed in the past or the present. If the cops and the government are not willing to completely indemnify you against prosecution for anything, including murder, don't say a word to them.
If the police are desperate enough to need your testimony or statement about something important to them, they will provide such immunity, which is very useful as a "Get Out Of Jail" card. Otherwise there is no way that police can compel you to make any sort of statement that may have the ability to incriminate you. And you had better believe that anything you say can be used AGAINST you - not FOR you.
Police lie to people and that is a fact. If a policeman is investigating you for an offence and tells you that if you cooperate, things will go easier, never believe it. The cop is investigating you to try and get an arrest and conviction, not to exonerate you. Anything you say will be used AGAINST you. What is important to understand is that the cop is not the one who is trying you for a crime - that's the job of the judge and jury. So it does not matter what the cop says to you about things going better if you make certain admissions, because that is a load of utter crap. You can make those admissions in court if you choose to do so, because the court is the body that will convict or acquit you, not the cop.
If you are arrested or dragged into an interview room, the most important thing you can ever do is - SAY NOTHING. No matter what the interviewing cops say, no matter if they play "Good Cop Bad Cop" with you, no matter if they say that they are not recording a part of the interview because what they want to know is "off the record", that's a load of rubbish. Cops are not news reporters.
Police may try bullying tactics if they can see that you might be scared or nervous. Most law-abiding citizens naturally are nervous when being interviewed by police and in their nervousness, they may make admissions that they would not normally make. Of course police use aggressive tactics to try and elicit statements, such as telling people that things are going to be hard for them if they do not cooperate and make admissions.
That sort of bullying and coercion is absolute rubbish and if you are confronted by a cop telling you that your refusal to make statements is going to go against you in some way, tell him politely to get lost. The cop is NOT the judge and jury. If something needs to be said, you say it in court, not to the cop.
Police have a lot of tricks that they use to elicit information or confessions from people who are being interviewed at a police station. The thing to understand and always keep in mind is that nothing you say to a cop will be used FOR you, even if the cop says that it is beneficial for you to make admissions.. So say NOTHING. You can do all your talking to a judge and jury if it comes to that. But the most important thing is that the police cannot detain you in custody if you are not under arrest, so you can just walk out of that police station at any time. But if you have been arrested, then you have to be aware of what the police will try, in order to wring information or admissions from you.
One of the fairly effective tactics that police use is the silent treatment. They may take you into an interview room and leave you there by yourself for a while. Most people become nervous when they are stuck in an interview room by themselves. Most people need to talk - and they do. So when a cop finally enters the interview room, you may feel relief and possibly disclose something that you did not intend to say. Don't fall for this ruse. Sit back, relax and keep your mouth shut for as long as it takes.
If you are under arrest, you may be taken to an interview room where the cop will sit there reading documents or writing something and will completely ignore you. This is merely a trick, because the thing that most people want is to get out of that room - it's intimidating and confining. So people tend to start talking, because silence is also intimidating. This is a technique that cops use to get people to talk, so do not fall for it. Sit back for as long as it takes, don't say a word and just wait for the cop to start the interview when he gets sick and tired of seeing that you're not falling for this trick.
But most importantly, if you say nothing at all, the cops may have to release you because they have no admissions or confessions, but if you say something, even something not relevant to their investigation, but something that they can act on as another offence, they can arrest you for that, not the offence that they are actually investigating. So no matter what police ask you or assure you that what you say is not going to be used against you, don't believe one word of it. Obviously if you say nothing, then the police have nothing to use against you and that is your best insurance policy.
There is a limit on the time that police can hold a person unless he is charged with an offence. In NSW, this is a very short four hours unless the police obtain a warrant and then they can extend this time by an additional eight hours. So if you are not charged, the police have to eventually release you. Obviously if you have not confessed to committing a crime and the police actually don't have any hard evidence on which they can base a criminal charge, then they have to let you go in the allotted period of time.
Here is a short list of ironclad rules that all motorists should follow to the letter to safeguard themselves as much as possible from entrapment and prosecution by police.