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by Peter Moskos

June 30, 2015

summertime reading / to explain legal issues / haikus for police

Cops are famous for having short attention spans. Who wants to read a whole book? Or article? Or legal bulletin? And since twitter is perhaps the worst place in the world to give legal lessons or any nuance, I thought I'd give it a try. Given the limitations of 140 characters, naturally I used haikus:
don't be so certain
if you say “I know my rights!”
you probably don't

must “articulate”
“reasonable suspicion”
for a “stop” or “frisk”

it’s more than a “hunch”
“reasonable suspicion”
from Terry, says Court

but “more than a hunch”
and “less than probable cause”
is still kind of vague

In Terry, Court said
“frisk” for “officer safety”
“patdown” “outer clothes”

In Terry, Court said
“frisk” for “officer safety”
patdown “outer clothes”

4th amendment says
police need “probable cause”
to “search” or arrest

hands in pants’ pockets
can be an illegal “search”
too common and wrong

unless police have
“probable cause” for bad stuff
based on “plain feel”

see hear smell or touch
if cops are legally there
It is all fair game

the legal standard
“beyond a reasonable doubt”
only applies in court

minor B.S. can
give police “probable cause”
smart cops will use it

with arrest comes search
called incident to arrest
oh, the game is rigged

you hope for the best
if you search and find nothing
let the person go

contraband is felt
“plain feel” gives “probable cause”
in a legal “frisk”

running *is* legal
(illinois versus wardlow)
but you can be “stopped”

warrant exceptions
despite the 4th amendment
are easy to find

“inventory” car
“search incident to arrest”
“within lunging reach”

“consent” is OK
happens much more than you’d think
courts kind’a hate it

even when legal
a “stop” isn’t an “arrest”
so it can’t take long

“Miranda” kicks in
only when questioned / can’t leave
not part of arrest

despite their urging
don’t tell cops about your crime
they will lock you up

but telling the truth
can bring about leniency
from cops used to lies

am I being “detained”?
won’t make friends... but fair to ask
if no, walk away

legally what counts
is the “totality of
the circumstances”

when cops use language
that doesn’t come naturally
They’re quoting the Court:

apparent” / “furtive gestures”
(whatever that means)

leaves fall in autumn
police work goes on and on
until the pension...


Adam said...

These are great!

For my own amusement, I created a few more (aimed at clearing up common misconceptions):

Just because you’re innocent doesn’t mean a cop doesn’t have cause to stop or search/arrest you. The cop may not know that.

If pulled over by police, don’t get out of the car. If the cop orders you out of the car, you must comply.

When an officer asks for consent to search, saying “no” may seem suspicious to the cop, but it doesn’t give him justification for a search.

For better or worse, cops are trained to shoot at “center mass,” never at the arms or legs. Shooting accurately is harder than you think.

PD Sergeant said...

I missed the Japanese Haiku lecture in college, I must have missed that day. Great stuff!

Moskos said...

Grass hoppa'... I think they must be 5-7-5!

Dave- IL said...

"don't be so certain
if you say “I know my rights!”
you probably don't"

This is almost always true, in my experience. I also love when people are being disruptive or aggressive on private property (let's say, at a hospital)and they just keep saying, "its a free country," when you start ushering them out the door. Hilarious.

Adam said...

Ah, I was skimming and overlooked the whole haiku theme. I figured you were just drunk or lazy when you wrote the tweets.

Gotti Rules said...

Well said Pete! How did you know that I have a short attention span?

Moskos said...

I did you know I was thinking of you when I wrote that?!