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Friday, April 19, 2013

Doing Drugs This Weekend? Here's How to Not Get Caught

Posted By on Fri, Apr 19, 2013 at 8:30 AM

Timothy Norris
This dude's actually drug free. But he still knows his rights.
In addition to being Record Store Day, this Saturday is also April 20, or 4/20, which many a stoner across the world regard as a free-for-all celebration of all things weed. Hate to say it, but some of you out there celebrating this weekend's unofficial marijuana "holiday" are going to be approached by police officers assuming you have drugs -- and the new law knocking down the penalties for the crime hasn't gone into effect in St. Louis yet. But guess what? You still have rights, man.

Cameron Bowman is here to help! As a music lover and attorney at San Jose, California, firm Valencia, Ippolito & Bowman, he's a legal expert on this kind of thing. Bowman, a.k.a. The Festival Lawyer, talks below about the best ways to protect yourself if you're approached by the fuzz.

1. Marijuana is still very much illegal in St. Louis, with stiff penalties.

The aforementioned new law will not go into effect until June 1. If you're doing anything illegal, don't be blatant about it.

Credit: Nanette Gonzales
"No officer, you cannot search my headdress."

2. Memorize a few key phrases.

"If a cop comes up and asks to see your ID," Bowman says, "the first question out of your mouth should be, 'Am I being detained?' Then, 'Why? What am being stopped for? Am I free to go, or am I under arrest?'"

Memorize this. Repeat it out loud: "Am I being detained? Why? Am I free to go, or am I under arrest?"

With these specific questions, you establish whether you are being arrested and transform any subsequent detention into a scenario in which the officer has to justify stopping you. Somebody looking at that explanation later will then make a decision about whether the officer had a good reason to stop you, which might make your case easier to defend.


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