A friendly reminder: Do not tell cops you have drugs or paraphernalia

Here is a rule to always keep in mind: Never answer questions from a cop about whether you are committing a crime. And always refuse to consent to searches of your person, your bags, your vehicle and your home.

Very recently, a woman in Niceville, Florida, was arrested after employees at the shop where she was parked reported her for suspicious behavior. When officers asked whether she was in possession of anything that might get her in trouble, she very helpfully replied that yes, she had an assortment of syringes and spoons associated with narcotics use, as well as a bag of meth.

Plenty of drug paraphernalia, especially those associated with marijuana use, have perfectly legal purposes, such as the consumption of tobacco or herbs. These are called “dual use” paraphernalia. But it is hard to argue that defense if you tell cops you have drugs on you.

Now, it is easy to imagine that a user of hard drugs might not always be thinking clearly, but this woman could very well have avoided charges by “just saying no.”

When you tell a police officer you will not answer questions or let them search your car, they might act shocked and confused that you would refuse such a reasonable request – to have a stranger rummage through your personal belongings. Pay no mind. Do not let them intimidate, threaten, or attempt to coerce you into feeling like you do not have any options. You control when consent is given and when it is withheld. Even if you initially give consent to a search, you can revoke it if done promptly and before the search commences.

Just remember: the answer to an officer who asks, “Can I take a look through [fill in the blank]” is always “No.

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