So you made a careful right turn and a few meters away, a policeman magically appears from behind a darkened tree. He pulls you over. You grip the steering wheel and the circus routine begins. He utters anything like:

“You made an illegal right turn. Let me see your documents” (but wait- there was no sign)

“I smell something in your car. Open the doors now” (and you know you’re not carrying drugs)

“Hunong . buksi salakyan mo” (and you know stacks of your brother’s FHM mags are in the back)

Remember, no matter how shiny his badge or dark his shades or menacing his scowl, you have rights established both by the Constitution and by jurisprudence. Commit the following key phrases to memory and in order. You’ll drive off safely.

AM I BEING DETAINED?

Whether you’re stopped and frisked at a poorly-lit checkpoint or pulled over on your bike, you can demand to be released if no charges are being pressed against you. An alternative to “Am I Being Detained” is  “Am I free to go”, or “May I go now”

The principle behind this power phrase is that if the police have nothing on you, they have to release you. Unduly holding you poses dire repercussions to them.

Be wary. If if the officer answers that you will be detained, the latter may have probable cause to hold you in which case they do have valid grounds to suspect wrong doing. The arresting officer will probe deeper. (Maybe you have guns in open view)

What if the police answered “yes you are free to go”? You must be released or the police can be charged with arbitrary detention, the penalty of which is hefty. They can’t hold you in a cell overnight without legal grounds.

Art. 124. Arbitrary detention. — Any public officer or employee who, without legal grounds, detains a person, shall suffer;
1. The penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period, if the detention has not exceeded three days;
2. The penalty of prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods, if the detention has continued more than three but not more than fifteen days;
3. The penalty of prision mayor, if the detention has continued for more than fifteen days but not more than six months; and
4. That of reclusion temporal, if the detention shall have exceeded six months.chanrobles virtual law library
The commission of a crime, or violent insanity or any other ailment requiring the compulsory confinement of the patient in a

And note- even if the police do have valid grounds to hold you, but fail to deliver you to the judge with 12 to 36 hours, you can press charges. The crime is Delay in the Delivery of Detained Persons.

Art. 125. Delay in the delivery of detained persons to the proper judicial authorities. — The penalties provided in the next preceding article shall be imposed upon the public officer or employee who shall detain any person for some legal ground and shall fail to deliver such person to the proper judicial authorities within the period of; twelve (12) hours, for crimes or offenses punishable by light penalties, or their equivalent; eighteen (18) hours, for crimes or offenses punishable by correctional penalties, or their equivalent and thirty-six (36) hours, for crimes, or offenses punishable by afflictive or capital penalties,

and we move on to the next magic phrase…

I DO NOT CONSENT AT ANYTIME TO ANY SEARCHES

Local law enforcement can be slippery and they play word games. They’ll bamboozle you into letting them search your minivan, your motorcycle or your home.

“Boss, since you haven’t committed a crime, then it’s okay we search you. After all, you’re innocent diba. Para wala nang hassle” 

Stop right there. You have the right to refuse a search- it’s guaranteed in the constitution.

Sec. 2 of the Bill of Rights states

Section 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

Unreasonable searches are so when no warrant of search accompanies the activity. The police may search you without a warrant but only if you have just committed, are committing or about to commit a crime.

Driving without a helmet is a violation of an ordinance, not a crime. They may not search you without a warrant.

Driving while singing “It Might Be You” may be vexing to bystanders, but it is not a crime. The police may not pop your trunk and search your soiled underwear.

And this leads us to another fact. By Jurisprudence , policemen who pull your car over :

  • May not demand that you step out of the vehicle (unless you ran an elderly person over)
  • Place any arm or leg within your car. The most that the police can do is shine a light through your closed windows.
  • Open your trunk (they can slip drugs in)

Let’s move to the third phrase.

I WANT TO REMAIN SILENT

There are alternatives. You can say “I invoke my right against self incrimination. “ or “I’m not talking till my lawyers get here”

Incompetent, abusive police officers pour on the heat when they see you trembling and sweating bullets. And speaking of bullets, they may even throw a slug or two past your window if your roll it down too low. (they’ll call it evidence)

When the police say “Admit it so we go easy on you. Aminin mo na bro para di kita pahirapan”, that raises warning flags. Do the opposite. Keep silent.

Remember, anything you say will be used against you. The constutitution grants you the right to refuse admission of any sort till your cheerful lawyer arrives. Which leads us to the final power phrase…

LET ME SEE MY LAWYER

Let’s assume you’re guilty as sin. You have ten bodies in the trunk, blood is dripping all over the floor and your family name sounds almost like Ang Pakwan. Plus your hands are bloody. Are you a lost case?

Not yet. Before the shocked police compel you to talk and even before you can even be arraigned before the judge you shall demand for your impeccably-dressed lawyer. A denial of this basic right weakens their case against you.

Be smart the next time you’re in a police situation. Commit this mnemonic to memory

DSSL or

  • DETAINED
  • SEARCHES
  • SILENT
  • LAWYER

Or imagine a faulty DSL router to remember

PLDT router

You’ll drive home safely and sleep in the comfort of your bed

 

 

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