+
upworthy
Democracy

The four magic phrases to use when you’re stopped by the cops

Everyone should know their rights.

know your rights, talking to police, pulled over, dealing with police

How to speak to a police officer.

Whether it's a traffic stop that turns into "We smell something in your car" or a "driving while black" situation, you have rights when you're pulled over, and it's for the best if you actually use them.

So how does this work, anyway?

Well, you have rights when you're pulled over. These have been established via case law, and ultimately, some stem from the Constitution itself. In order, here are the magic phrases, along with some graphics to help you remember.


1. "Am I free to go?”

In any situation involving the police, you can ask this question. Some people ask it slightly differently: "Am I being detained?"—which is a version of the same question. Basically, if they've got nothing on you, they have to let you go. If they answer no to that question, you are in fact not free to go. In that case, you are suspected of doing something, and it's their job to try to get you to admit to it or to say a bit too much and incriminate yourself.

2. "I do not consent to any searches.”

One of the trickiest things that some law enforcement folks try is to talk you into letting them search your vehicle—or house, for that matter. "So if you haven't done anything, then you're ok with us searching your car … right? I mean, if you're innocent. We'll go easier on you if you let us." Do NOT give up your rights that easily. Are you certain your buddy didn't leave a bag of weed in the glove box? Are you sure your boyfriend took his target pistol out of the trunk after he went to practice shooting the other day? Are you absolutely certain that the body in your trunk was removed and buried in that farm fiel … whoops. Did I say that last one out loud?! The point is, don't give up your rights easily. And believe me, cops are gooooood at trying to play psychological games. Which leads to #3.

3. "I want to remain silent.”

You have that right, and if things start getting thick, you need to use it. "We clocked you going 60 in a 50, but when you opened your window to give us your license, we smelled marijuana." The correct answer to something like this is, "I want to remain silent." The temptation is to say, "Yeah, my buddy and I smoked in my car this morning but I wasn't driving, blah blah blah"—but then you're already nailed. Time for them to get the dogs and search. Congratulations, you're on your way to the pokey for the night.

4. "I want a lawyer.”

If you've reach this particular point, then you're in deep doodoo anyway, so go ahead and ask for one, and say nothing until he or she arrives. Remember these four things. It will be hard in the moment, with your adrenaline pumping, your freedom in question, and when you're possibly in physical danger, depending on the cops involved and your skin color.

"Am I free to go?"

"I do not consent to any searches."

"I want to remain silent."

"I want a lawyer."

Perhaps a word involving the first letter of the four statements will help you remember: FoSSiL (Free, Searches, Silent, Lawyer)

Or maybe a mnemonic:

— Fiscal Suns Scramble Lives

— Fresh Sushi Smell Lemons

— Flexible Straws Sell Lobsters

— Free Subjects Steam Lobsters

The clip below is a shortened version of a much longer one that explains your rights, detailing what you can and cannot do in these situations.

This article was written by Brandon Weber and originally appeared on 09.12.17


This could be the guest house.


Inequality has gotten worse than you think.

An investigation by former "Daily Show" correspondent Hasan Minhaj is still perfectly apt and shows that the problem isn't just your classic case of "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer."

Keep ReadingShow less
Kevin Parry / Twitter

Toronto-based animator and video wizard Kevin Parry has gone mega-viral for his mind-boggling collection of videos where he turns himself into random objects.

In a series of quick clips he changes into everything from a pumpkin to a bright yellow banana and in most of the videos, he appears to suffer a ridiculous death. The videos combine studio trickery with a magician's flair.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

A brave fan asks Patrick Stewart a question he doesn't usually get and is given a beautiful answer

Patrick Stewart often talks about his childhood and the torment his father put him and his mother through.

Patrick Stewart often talks about his childhood and the torment his father put him and his mother through. However, how he answered this vulnerable and brave fan's question is one of the most eloquent, passionate responses about domestic violence I've ever seen.

Keep ReadingShow less

A map of the United States post land-ice melt.


Land ice: We got a lot of it.

Considering the two largest ice sheets on earth — the one on Antarctica and the one on Greenland — extend more than 6 million square miles combined ... yeah, we're talkin' a lot of ice.

But what if it was all just ... gone? Not like gone gone, but melted?

Keep ReadingShow less
OriginalAll photos belong to Red Méthot, who gave me permission to share them here.

Chloé was born at 32 weeks.


Every single day, babies across the world are born prematurely, which means that they're born before 37 weeks of gestation.

In Canada, about 29,000 infants are born prematurely each year, roughly 1 in every 13. But in the United States, around 400,000 to 500,000 are born early. That's about 1 in every 8 to 10 babies born in the U.S.!

Red Méthot, a Canadian photographer and student, decided to capture the resilience of many of these kids for a school photography project.

Keep ReadingShow less
Democracy

Teacher tries to simulate a dictatorship in her classroom, but the students crushed her

"I’ve done this experiment numerous times, and each year I have similar results. This year, however, was different."

Each year that I teach the book "1984" I turn my classroom into a totalitarian regime under the guise of the "common good."

I run a simulation in which I become a dictator. I tell my students that in order to battle "Senioritis," the teachers and admin have adapted an evidence-based strategy, a strategy that has "been implemented in many schools throughout the country and has had immense success." I hang posters with motivational quotes and falsified statistics, and provide a false narrative for the problem that is "Senioritis."

Keep ReadingShow less