7/25/2010

If The Police Come A Knockin' Don't Do No Talkin' - Part 1

People always ask me, if the police come to my door without a search warrant, do I need to let them in? The answer is always, “Hell no.” What if the police want to come and search my brother’s or my son’s room, can I let them in? The answer is the same, “Hell no.” The police can only come in your house, apartment, or motel room – yes, your motel is your home under the Constitution even if only for the night – if they have a warrant to search.

If they have a “felony arrest” warrant for you or someone they think is in your home, you have to let them in to look but only in places where a person can hide–not your panty drawer or kitchen cabinets.

I have a story from my own stupid criminal career to illustrate the point. One fine day I was enjoying the Bakersfield summer minding my own business while driving home from a day at the lake where I was drinking myself stupid, as I always did in my younger days.

On my way home, a huge boulder leapt out from the side of the road and side-swiped my beautiful blue 1979 Chevrolet Camero. The car was stuck, but my friends who were following me in another car stopped to help me release the rock from my right rear corner panel. I was able to drive a few hundred feet until I came to the drunken realization that my tire was flat. I pulled over and jumped into my friend’s car, and as we were driving East, a Bakersfield Police Department motorcycle was driving west.

My friends dropped me off at my mother’s house (where the car was registered). As I was sitting in the livingroom, I saw the motorcycle cop walking up the sidewalk to the front door. I scurried into the backyard like a cockroach under a flashlight.

My 13-year-old brother answered the door and the cop asked if Tim Pori was home. My brother said: “No.” The cop said, mind if I come in and look for him? My brave little brother stood tall and said: “I don’t think so.” The disgruntled cop rode away and my brother summoned me from the bushes.

The next day, Officer Cootie from the hit and run detail (I’m not kidding, his name really was Cootie) called me and asked me if I was in an accident. Rather than assert my constitutional right to remain silent like I should have, I told him the following: “Well officer, I was driving my car and I hit a large rock. I got out and noticed there was no damage to the rock , so I drove away.”

If my smart little brother hadn’t protected me from the cop, I probably would have been stupid enough to confess to drunk driving and hit and run, like so many of my clients do. The story is always that the drunk is seen driving home and going into his house, only to be caught by some responsible citizen or watchful police officer. The cops always knock on the door and the drunk driver or a loved one always answers the door. The cop asks the loved one to get the driver to come to the door and the dumb drunk comes out and admits to driving, or is identified by the witness who saw the dumbass drive home. By the time the drunk comes to me for legal advice it’s too late.

Don’t drive drunk, stupid. If you do, and are lucky enough to make it home, don’t answer the door. If you do, don’t go out and talk to the cops. Otherwise, it’s your own damn fault. Okay?

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