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Those with some legal experience please help

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Groovecenter, Aug 11, 2005.

  1. I'll start off with the basic story and ask my questions from there:

    My friend and I were smoking at 3:30 AM Wednesday Morning. We were picked up by two undercover police in a silver mini-van in my neighborhood. When we were picked up there was a small blunt clip left, maybe .04 gram in the blunt if even, and nothing on either of us. We were brought into a precinct in Coney Island, Brooklyn, about 15-20 minutes car ride from where we were picked up.

    At the precinct we were both fingerprinted, and kept in a lockup for approximately 5- 5 1/2 hours. I am 20, my friend 17. I have a few questions, because after this happend I realized how pathetically little I know about my rights.

    I also don't want people chiming in on pot smoking and what not, I obviously know what I did was illegal and don't plan on ever being caught doing anything illegal in public again. As for drugs, well let's just say Im taking a long overdue vacation from pot, between school starting again and this it's pretty clear that stage of my life is over.

    1. I wasn't read any rights, though I was handcuffed and taken to jail. Is this because I got a summons? (Desk Appearance Ticket actually- DAT)

    2. How long can police hold you? We were locked up for 5 hours. Had a parent or lawyer come would we have been let out earlier? Why would it take that long? We were the only ones in the jail after they rounded up the rest to go to central booking.

    3. Does anyone have any idea what the fine/punishment for having less than a gram of weed rolled in a blunt would be? Neither I nor my friend have any records, apart from me having a fine for urinating in public.

    4. They made an error on my friends summons, his birth date is incorrect. It says he is 19, when he is in actuallity 17. Im not sure if this has any bearing whatsoever but I might as well mention it. We are listed as co-defendents on the summons.

    Im not saying anything bad about police, and I don't want this to turn into a discussion like that, nor about the merits of weed and whether or not it should be illegal. I have nothing against cops, and besides the amount of time it took them to process our DAT's we were treated relatively nicely, not that I have prior experiences to compare ours with.
  2. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    I dont know much about this kind of thing but Im fairly sure that because the weed you had was such a small amount and was in a blunt you only have to worry about being charged with use or possesion, and dont need to worry about being charged with trafficking which I hear is much harsher.

    EDIT: The rights thing seems really fishy to me. These days it seems impossible for police to forget to read rights in my mind and I wonder if they didnt on purpose. Maybe they just intended on getting the pot out of your hands and making it a kind of warning and neglected to read you your rights so that you could use that as a way out of any real trouble.
  3. Wow. I'm glad that the police got two such obviously dangerous individuals off the streets for a few hours.
  4. pigpen02


    Mar 24, 2002
    First, how exactly did you get busted? Did they ask to search the vehicle, and was that where it was found?

    I believe that, without some reasonable suspicion of wrong-doing, the police can't search your vehicle without permission, or employing the patriot act (i think); they have to ask, and most people, unaware of their rights, give consent. You can say "no."

    Typically, this is followed by the scripted "Is there anything i should know about in there?" Say "no" again. Next up is "If you're not doing anything wrong, then why can't i take a look." This should be followed by a long spiel about your right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. If they're serious, they'll call for the canine unit, which will scratch up your ride when he starts smelling our dope.

    Misdemeanor possession is no big deal, unless you plan on working for the cia or similar organization. I've been busted twice, both times went to the silly little d.a.r.e for adults class 4 times, took a pee test, paid a fine, and had both expunged from my record for doing what the court demanded. I wouldn't be too worried, it hasn't ever come up in my professional life.
  5. Bob Clayton

    Bob Clayton Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 14, 2001
    Philly Suburbs
    before a police officer can question/arrest you, have to read you these six lines, known as the Miranda Rights

    1. You have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions. Do you understand?
    2. Anything you do say may be used against you in a court of law. Do you understand?
    3. You have the right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning now or in the future. Do you understand?
    4. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish. Do you understand?
    5. If you decide to answer questions now without an attorney present you will still have the right to stop answering at any time until you talk to an attorney. Do you understand?
    6. Knowing and understanding your rights as I have explained them to you, are you willing to answer my questions without an attorney present?

    if they didn't... MAKE SURE you mention that in court.. because then then the judge will see that the officer violated part of the due process clause of the 5th Amendment.

    as for your friend. MAKE SURE THEY SEE THE ERROR.... otherwise he will be charged as an adult instead of a minor... but then again... if they know he is a minor.... they could slap you with a "corrupting the morals of a minor" misdmeanor
  6. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Actually, HE might get off. My brother's friend got a smoking ticket (tobacco, by the by) and got out of it because the officer spelled his name wrong. Seems something like a 2 year differnece in birthdates could have the same effect...ne?
  7. i got out of a traffic ticket because the cop put the wrong statute number...
  8. cheezewiz

    cheezewiz Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2002

    ABSOLUTELY Incorrect. You CAN be arrested without being read your rights. It happens all the time. Miranda ONLY comes into play when:
    1. You are under arrest
    2. You are being questioned.

    BOTH items must be present. If I had a nickel for every person who thought his arrest wasn't "valid" because he wasn't "read his rights", I'd be a rich man. Countless defendants have told me,
    "Hey, I'm gonna get out of this because you didn't read me my rights". I always respond with, "Well Perry Mason, if you think that, more power too ya. I'll see you in Court, I could use the overtime" If you are arrested on a warrant, if you are arrested and the officer doesn't question you (other than basic info..name address, etc), then he DOESN'T HAVE TO READ YOU ANYTHING!

    As far as making the 17 year old 19, that's a MAJOR boo boo. I'd guess he'll be getting out of that one.
  9. ok, Im going to respond to these individually, though hopefully without overlap:

    Thankyou Smash for the well thought out and most helpful response, I appreciate it.
  10. Cheesewiz, as we are listed as codefendents on the summons, does a mistake on his summons make mine invalid as well?

    Also, I couldn't have made it any clearer that I was not looking to bash cops. I understand how you might feel it's necessary to put that disclaimer in your post though, many people don't understand the difficulties of being a cop.

    In your experience what sort of punishment follows a crime like this? Do you know if this will be on my record?
  11. cheezewiz

    cheezewiz Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2002
    It isn't that his summons is "invalid", and I don't know the specific laws in your State, but here in Ohio, a 17 year would have to be cited to Juvenile Court, not Municipal. Juvenile Court has sole jurisdiction on cases with persons under 18. I don't think a mistake on his age makes your summons invalid.

    Don't get me wrong, it sounds to me like you were dicked around a bit needlessly for a petty offense. Look at it this way though, you DID do it. It's a minor offense, so live and learn from the experience. And also, I didn't take your post as cop bashing at all.

    As far as penalty, each State varies. Here in Ohio, possession of pot in an amount less than 100 grams is a minor misdemeanor. The same level of offense as a traffic ticket. The maximum possible penalty is a $100 fine, plus Court costs. HOWEVER, where they get you is....it carries a mandatory 6 month driver's license suspension.
  12. Yeah, like I said in my first post I know what I did was wrong, and I don't ever plan on being on that side of the law again. That being said, how necessary was it, and beyond spending the worst 5 hours of my life behind bars in a 3 x 5 cell, should I be expected to pay out 200 bucks? What's punishment enough? That was by far the most helpless I've ever felt, and I have a feeling they knew that, and beyond that they knew there wasn't anything I could do or will do. At this point Im just voicing my displeasure, but it's about all I can do anymore. Things are no doubt different where you are, but here in NY I don't know that I can ever really feel safe without a lawyer or someone really looking out for me.

    Last time I checked the police have something on their cars, CPR- Courtesy, Professionalism and Respect... does that cease to apply to somone who's been arrested? Or do they get to judge who deserves the runaround on a case by case basis.

    Once again not flaming all cops or you at all, but it's a scary thought that this could happen to me or a friend for something like that, illegal as it was, was still a pretty petty thing. Had I been alone I would have no doubt broken down in that cell.

    Section 221.10 Criminal possession of marihuana in the fifth degree

    A person is guilty of criminal possession of marihuana in the fifth degree when he knowingly and unlawfully possesses:

    1. marihuana in a public place, as defined in section 240.00 of this chapter, and such marihuana is burning or open to public view; or

    2. one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances containing marihuana and the preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances are of an aggregate weight of more than twenty-five grams.

    Criminal possession of marihuana in the fifth degree is a class B misdemeanor.

    That is by the way what is written on my summons
  13. cheezewiz

    cheezewiz Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2002

    I understand completely man, and I don't disagree with you.
    I can't judge what the officers did completely, because I wasn't there, and am not familiar with their department or procedures. I can tell you, had the incident occurred in my jurisdiciton, you would have been released from the scene with a minor misdemeanor ticket, and your 17 year old buddy would have been brought to the station, had a parent contacted IMMEDIATELY, and been released to the parent as soon as they arrived. The whole process MAY have taken around a half an hour, if that.
  14. it doesn't matter what your rights are. They could hold you there as long as they want, and it really doesn't matter if you've done anything illegal at all. If they screwed up your paperwork and arrested you for a crime you never commited, they aren't going to apologize, and you will still have to pay them insane amounts of money.

    the amount of pot doesnm't matter, except for it being either over or under an ounce, and how much that matters depends on where yopu live.
  15. Thanks for humoring my venting, I appreciate it Cheezewiz. Hopefully the public defender at the courthouse Im going to will be able to do more for me, though from what I've seen and heard these court appearences are fast and more or less flash-bang in and out. Here's to hoping for an understand judge that will hear what's happend so far and maybe take it easy on me. Thanks again to all those who weighed in.
  16. fraublugher


    Nov 19, 2004
    ottawa, ontario, canada
    music school retailer
    the patriot act
  17. Well thanks for the response, that's pretty sad to hear. An apology I would never expect, most government agencies are above apologizing, especially to someone they view as a 20 year old kid.

    Well, this has all been nice learning experience if nothing else. Luckily Im going away to school and don't drive up there, so the six month suspension won't kill me. I guess I had an optimist's view of the legal system, but that's something that dissapears quite rapidly once you're actually a part of it. Don't get me wrong, Im sure it works and I know for a fact other parts of the world have it way worse, but it doesn't make the realization any easier on me, especially considering at one point I wanted to be a lawyer.

    This is one system I never want to deal with in any facit of my life again... ever.
  18. Again, thankyou for the responses, you've made me start thinking about questions that could further improve my knowledge on this sort of thing, which at this point Im desperate to do. Ignorance may be bliss, but once you move beyond ignorance and into that grey area, all I can find is fear and anxiety... once again, it seems to me this is a big part of the power of law enforcement at this point.
  19. oh yeah, my experience might not be anything worth considering, since I live in Louisiana. I hear the government works for people in some parts of this country. I have trouble believing that, though.
  20. spc


    Apr 10, 2004
    South of Boston
    Uhhh, what?