Friday, June 8, 2012

Marijuana law just creates criminals

CNN on New York's "Catch-22" law.

But what many people don't know is that the state decriminalized this offense more than 30 years ago, making private possession of less than 25 grams of marijuana a violation punishable by a $100 fine. Possession of the same amount in public view remains a criminal misdemeanor.

Often, however, the police approach young people and instruct them to empty their pockets immediately and show the officers anything they have. People who have a small quantity of marijuana in their pockets take it out and hold it up. The marijuana is now in public view. Thousands of people are then arrested and charged with misdemeanor possession, punishable by up to three months in jail and a $500 fine.

That's just plain chickenshit and only creates grist for the Law enforcement/Prison industry mill.

But New York is prepared to take a significant step forward to solve this problem. With the leadership of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, we are on the brink of finishing the job that the state Legislature started in 1977. We want to reduce the classification of possession of small quantities of marijuana in plain view from a misdemeanor to a violation.
Justice demands this change. The possession of small quantities of marijuana is either a crime or it is not. But it cannot be criminal activity for one group of people and socially acceptable behavior for another when the dividing line is race.

Good for Cuomo. The criminal records of people who have been turned into criminals in this patently unfair arrest scam should be expunged as well. Fat chance.


Raw Story

A dozen New York City lawmakers will meet members of Congress and officials from the justice department on Wednesday in the hope of prompting a federal investigation into the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy....

Members of the coalition say mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly have failed to respond to demands for change and that federal intervention is now needed. [...]

Let's review "probable cause".

In California there used to be an "implied consent" law that the mere fact you had a driver's license implied consent to a search of your vehicle if you were stopped for any reason. That went by the boards a long time ago but many cops want you to think it still applies.

A police officer can act on any "plain view" observation, but "probable cause" is necessary for a "Constitutional search". Mere suspicion is not grounds for probable cause. I was in court once (I did that a lot back in the day) and a judge ruled that anything the cop saw in a pickup was OK until he bent over to have a closer look and saw an open beer on the floorboard, and that constituted a Constitutional search and the evidence was not allowable and the guy beat the "open container" charge. I've also seen that judge in the Safeway at one a.m. in his PJs and slippers buying a gallon jug of wine. Justice was gonna get blind. Heh.

There must have been a specific crime or violation committed with actionable evidence that a person was involved. That constitutes probable cause. This despicable, mostly race-based "stop-and-frisk" law is blatantly in violation of the Constitution and needs to be stopped. Now.

Never ever consent to a Constitutional search especially if you have nothing to hide. Let the cop go through the process even if it wastes your time. Let him summon the dope-sniffing pooch (ours is usually about 65 miles away. Heh.) The cops know they're just fishing and only the most chickenshit of them (plenty of those) will detain you. They know they have no grounds for a warrant and are just trying to browbeat you into complying with their request. Do not be intimidated by all the cop's flashy hardware or bully attitude.

Cop: "I know you have dope or are up to something criminal." That's the way those fuckers think, and if you think too long, you think wrong. All they do is think all the time about us civilian scumbags being up to no good and they're wrong 99% of the time.

You (locking car, putting keys in pocket, crossing arms, leaning on car, smiling): "Officer, you may suspect I'm up to no good, you may even believe I'm up to no good, but you fer goddam sure don't know I'm up to no good. Go wake up a judge and ask him to issue a search warrant on what you think. I'll wait."

Won't happen unless someone dropped a dime on you. Heh.

I know a cop who claims he can get probable cause on anyone if he talks to them long enough. Keep your mouth mostly shut and don't make or respond to small talk. Remember that government officials, from cops to the President, are allowed to lie to you, but it's a crime for you to lie to them.

We should make it a crime for them to lie to us, with appropriate penalties. That would change everything. All the Repugs would be in the hoosegow where they belong and most of the Dems as well.


I wandered a bit above. Ben Jealous, president of the NAACP, on "stop-and-frisk":

Such policing is a wholesale violation of civil rights. The program has seemingly given law enforcement carte blanche to stop anyone they please. This has led to hundreds of thousands of innocent people – a majority of whom are people of color – being harassed and humiliated by the police sworn to protect them.

More. Give 'em hell, Ben.


Carrie said...

Being in the "legal field" (ahem), I have always advised my family to NEVER talk to the police, ALWAYS ask for a lawyer, NEVER agree to a breath test, take a blood or pee test later, do not consent to a search, do not allow any police officer to check your vehicle (they do need a search warrant as you have stated), and DON'T ANSWER any questions! Sounds like we are on the same page, LOL!

Gordon said...

If you refuse a blood test here in California, the cops will physically drag you to an ER and have your blood drawn. I know this for a fact. The ER will bill you for it too. This happened to me. I sent the ER a note saying that if the cops wanted my blood against my wishes they can damn well pay for it themselves. Never heard any more about it.