A UF student was arrested Monday and charged with six drug–related felonies after officials found marijuana, crack cocaine and prescription drugs in his possession. At about 11 p.m., an Alachua County Sheriff’s officer saw David Janson, 23, standing on the corner near 4500 S.W. 91st St. According to the ASO arrest report, when Janson saw the ASO officer, he showed signs of nervousness by walking away and looking over his shoulder to see if he was being followed.
When the officer approached Janson, he found a multicolored glass pipe in his front pocket, which Janson admitted to recently smoking marijuana out of, the report stated. Janson told the officer that he had prescription medication, marijuana and other narcotics in his apartment.
After Janson signed a Voluntary Consent to Search Form, the officer searched his apartment and found marijuana, a straw, cocaine and prescription pills. He was charged with five misdemeanors and six felonies.
“Wait, officers, I’m not through! I also cheated on my taxes from 2005-2007! When I was 15 I sneaked into an R-rated movie! Yesterday, I shoplifted a Zagnut bar from the Piggly Wiggly! I also ripped off all the tags on my pillows and mattresses, in violation of federal law! Isn’t there anything else you can charge me with?”
OK, to start with, standing on the corner alone at night isn’t a crime. Don’t be nervous. People who aren’t committing crimes aren’t nervous around police officers. They look at them driving by. Sometimes they wave.
Still, the cop might stop to talk to you. You don’t have to answer his questions and at any time you can say, Am I being officially detained? Because I need to be going now. If he insists on keeping you there, then you have a right to ask, Can you tell me why I’m being detained? His answer could be useful to your lawyer later.
But if he does detain you (let your lawyer worry about whether he had the right to), he does have the right to pat you down to make sure you’re not armed. A glass pipe in your pocket will definitely feel suspicious… and that moment, right there, when that cop’s hand touches your pipe through your clothing is the moment when you steadfastly observe your right to remain silent and immediately ask to speak with your attorney (you know, the one from the NORML Legal Committee* whose name, phone number, and address you have written down and keep in your wallet or purse at all times?)
“Empty your pockets!” I’m sorry, officer, but I do not consent to any searches and I wish to speak with my attorney. If he’s going to arrest you and search through your pockets, fine, just don’t resist or say anything.
“You been smokin’ outta this pipe?” I’m sorry, officer, but I can’t answer any questions until my attorney is present.
Had David Janson just done that, he’d be looking at misdemeanor paraphernalia possession, and at most would’ve led to 1 year, $1,000 fine, and 6 months – 2 years driver’s license suspension. Did Janson become convinced that admitting to marijuana smoking from the pipe, admitting to possession of marijuana, cocaine, and pharmaceuticals back home and allowing the police to go in and find them, that was somehow going to make them say, “Hey, kid, sorry about the pipe thing. At least you were honest. We’ll just take these drugs away and leave you be. Have a nice day!”
I know it’s tough. Police are well-trained to fool you into giving up your legal rights and making a prosecutor’s job easy. Check out the Busted video from FlexYourRights.org for helpful training on how to deal with police encounters.
*My lawyer (if’n I ever need one) is John Lucy IV, the proprietor of Law420.com. He has the most genius business card in the world. Front side: your rights, back side: his contact info. Except it’s not a business card, it’s a printed Bic lighter. What stoner is ever going to be without his lighter? We call ‘em “Lucy Lighters” in Portland and give them out at all our meetings. Note to NORML Chapters: what a great way to advertise!
John also says, “The more you say, the more you pay.” If you get arrested, STFU. Nothing you can say to a cop will make things any better and anything you say will probably make your situation worse. Your lawyer can say things to a judge that will make things better, but not if you’ve given the prosecutor better things to say to the judge.