Safe Assumption: Cops Know the Law

Assume those pictured know the law.What is it about people that they forget about the fact cops have to know the law? There is something that you non-LEO types (read: civilians) need to be aware of and that is this:

Your average police academy lasts for between five and six months. The days last for about 10 hours. Sure, you get weekends off, but that is typically saved for studying, writing and shining shit.

Think of it this way. Your average college course per semester is three hours a week for about 15 weeks. That’s 45 hours of study.  Equate that to an academy experience. You’d knock out a semester’s worth of study in a damn week.

People have this misconception about law enforcement that our training is all about physical fitness and shooting. In reality, most of what we do is study the law. We have to know case law (both old and new). We have to know our legal rights to arrest, detain, search, etc. We have to know how and when varying levels of force are allowed, legal, and desirable in any given situation.

A situation, by the by, that can change in a heartbeat.

I bring this all up because recently I had an amusing interaction (and when I say this, I mean I was amused by it) with a driver who was utterly convinced he was right about his Fourth Amendment rights. (Hint: He was not.)

The driver of a pickup ran a stop sign and made an unsafe turn in front of an oncoming vehicle. I stopped him and he had attitude from the get-go.

I asked him for his ID. I saw him open his wallet and then suddenly close it and say he didn’t have his ID. I had seen something in his wallet that might have been a form of ID and asked him to hand me his wallet.

He lost his mind. “No! No! You have no right!”

For those of you not in the know, not unlike our friend here, allow me to introduce you to CVC 40302(a).  In a nutshell, that section requires a person to identify themselves. If they refuse, I have the legal right to search a vehicle for satisfactory identification.

My driver adamantly told me I “have no right to demand” his wallet.

Isn’t he just precious?

I quickly saw things weren’t going to go well, so I told him to get out of his vehicle and join me on the sidewalk. Initially, he refused, but, being the silver-tongued devil that I am, I was able to convince him of the error of his ways.

He had a nasty habit of not listening when I told him to keep his hands out of his pockets and he was a bit of a close-talker. After repeated requests and not being listened to, I requested an additional unit and cuffed our misinformed young man for his safety and mine.

As a side note, I noticed the distinct odor of marijuana coming from his vehicle and, surprise surprise, the driver had a medical marijuana card.  He also admitted to having weed in the car. (Gee, I wonder why he didn’t want me to search his vehicle?)

Since I didn’t have his ID, I asked him what his date of birth was after he gave me his name. With all kinds of attitude, he said, “It’s on my paperwork! Use some common sense!” He was referring to his medical marijuana paperwork.

I replied to him something to the effect of, “I don’t think you should use the term “common sense” since you aren’t using any. Particularly since your paperwork does not, in fact, list your date of birth.”

His reply? “Oh.”

Well done, dummy.

When another unit arrived, he continued to tell us how we “had no right” to search him or his vehicle for identification. The cover officer said, “Um. Yeah. We do.”

He didn’t really take the cover officer’s word for it, either.

This guy walked a very thin line between walking away with a simple ticket or going to jail for delaying me (a misdemeanor). As I am wont to do, I went with what was easier for me…I just gave him his ticket and sent him on his angry, misinformed way.

Honestly, I’m a little disappointed he didn’t complain.

Let this bonehead be a lesson for you all. 99.6% of the cops know what they’re talking about when it comes to legal issues.

Oh, and if, like our friend, you have a “ton of cop and lawyer friends”, be sure to ask them two things:

1. Does an officer have the right to search your vehicle if you either fail to provide satisfactory ID or refuse to do so?

2. Would they recommend you act like an astronomical douche when asserting your misplaced assertions of law?

I don’t think you’ll be surprised at the answer.

Just make sure the “lawyer friend” isn’t a real-estate lawyer. Pretty sure they aren’t up to speed on criminal law.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. Snark is encouraged. Being a prat is not.

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7 thoughts on “Safe Assumption: Cops Know the Law

  1. So, medical mj DOESN’T mellow one out, or turn one into a philosophical brain surgeon?? How disappointing.

  2. And, if there is ANY evidence of marijuana, 215 or not, you get to search every nook and cranny of his vehicle (unless legit 420 card, which I’m willing to bet this knucklehead didn’t have . . .)

    • Even if someone has a legit medicinal marijuana card/paperwork, officers can STILL search your vehicle for compliance with the compassionate use act. Prop 215 allows a very specific amount of marijuana to be possessed by a person. Prop 215 does *NOT* allow people to transport marijuana in a vehicle. CVC 23222(b) limits the amount of marijuana which can be in a vehicle. But we’re also allowed to legally search for evidence of smoking marijuana in the vehicle (which is never legal)… Also, prop 215 is an affirmative defense in court. It is not legal exemption from being arrested or cited for possession of marijuana in California.

  3. I just wish they knew more about the laws regarding firearms, at least in my state. As it stands, attorneys and firearms instructors know more about the laws than most LEO.

    Not to mention 2A supporters.

    So yes, I disagree with you on this. Cops don’t know every law, or every exemption.

  4. So many people invoke the 4th Amendment and all I think is…it doesn’t mean what you think it means… There should be a meme for it to hand out to folks.