CITIZEN’S BILL OF RIGHTS: WHAT WOULD IT LOOK LIKE?
Expanding on what someone else has said is a high form of flattery. I was reading a blog called The “Meaning” of America, written by the Czar, Rob Fickman. This particular post made some suggestions of what the Texas legislature must do during the next session. Fickman’s first demand was that the Texas leg must adopt a “Citizen Bill of Rights.” I think that is a great idea, but he just left it at that. Coincidentally, I was invited to be a guest on a podcast the other day by DJ BIGREEKS, Rob Jay and the Waxaholics. The Waxaholics are a group of intelligent hip hop affectionados, DJs, artists, MCs, and leaders in the Houston area. Rob Jay asked on air what are his rights if he was pulled over by the police. My question are probably similar to yours: what are my rights; why should I know my rights; why are my rights important; what could happen if I don’t know my rights. I will answer some of those questions below. Please note that this is not legal advice. It simply my opinion.
WHY SHOULD CITIZENS HAVE RIGHTS DURING A POLICE ENCOUNTER?
The United States of America was founded on the principle of freedom from tyranny and the enjoyment of liberty. In other words, we wanted to be free from those damn Red Coats (the English) who were getting all up in out business. So, the Founding Fathers met in Philadelphia for several months drinking beer and sleeping with hookers coming up with our Declaration of Independence., which paved the way for our Constitution and Bill of Rights. America broke free from England because we wanted life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. How can you be happy when you are not free? And that’s what your rights are all about — being from government intrusion. Just look at the Bill of Rights… we wanted to be able to express or opinions and grievances against the government, so we passed the first amendment… we wanted to to keep soldiers from barging into our homes and saying… ” we are the government..we are taking your beds, oh, and feed us,” so we passed the third amendment… we were tired of the British stopping us in our tracks, searching us, searching our homes, ransacking our property, sentencing us to death without a trial, taking out property without a trial, so we passed the fourth amendment which says we are free from unreasonable searches and seizures and entitled to due process… we also didn’t like the police using our own words against us so we passed the fifth amendment…and the sixth amendment… the founding fathers wanted people to know that they were entitled to a lawyer, people had the right to know what they were being charged with, why and by whom… the founding fathers didn’t like that people were wasting away in jail waiting for trial, being tortured, being sentenced to death without trial so they passed the 8th amendment that guarantees reasonable bail and prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. The kicker is that these rights are given to the people and they protect the people from the government.
So at the most fundamental level, this country was founded on the idea that Americans have rights, they should know their rights, and they should exercise their rights in order to be free from a tyrannical government. Somewhere along the way, we lost track of that. Somewhere along the way (last 15 years), the right wing has taken hostage the word “patriot” and what it means to be an American, but little do they know, they are more like ISIS than true americans. Being an American means you know your rights, you are empowered to use them, and you use them, especially when the people are abusing your rights. You should have rights because having rights is as American as apple pie. You should know your rights to protect your freedom!
WHY SHOULD CITIZENS KNOW THEIR RIGHTS DURING A POLICE ENCOUNTER?
You should know your rights during a police encounter so that you don’t end up abused or wrongly accused. If you know your rights, you are less likely to be charged. The old saying is that, “If you don’t talk, you walk.” If you know and exercise your rights, there will be nothing you say to be used against you; there will be no or at least less evidence to be used against you.
WHAT ARE A CITIZEN’S RIGHTS DURING A POLICE ENCOUNTER?
If you are found to be within the borders of the State of Texas, you are protected by the laws of the United States of America and State of Texas. I does not matter whether you are a citizen or non-citizen, here legally or not. These rights are created for your protection to guard you from unreasonable and unlawful intrusions into your life. Know your rights. Exercise your rights.
Right 1: You have the right to know and exercise your rights. No government official, court, or officer will use against you the fact that you exercised your rights.
Right 2: You have the right to know why an officer is interacting with you, why you have been detained, what the officer’s probable cause is, and why you have been arrested.
Right 3: You have the right to know whether you have been detained,
Right 4: You have the right to know whether you are under arrest.
Right 5: Any time you have been stopped by the police, you have the right to know why you have been stopped, detained, questioned or place under arrest.
Right 6: You have the right to you have the right to ask officers what their probable cause was for stopping you.
Right 7: You have the right to know if there is a warrant for your arrest, and read it.
Right 8: You have the right to know if there is a warrant to search your body, car, home, or office, and read it.
Right 9: You have the right to deny consent to any officer asking to search your person, car, home, or office.
Right 10: You have the right to know if you are free to leave a police encounter.
Right 11: You have the right to remain silent and not say anything that can be used against you.
Right 12: You have the right to deny any field sobriety tests.
Rule 13: You have the right to deny consent to withdraw blood or breath if the police suspect you of DWI.
Rule 14: You have the right to an attorney.
These were just some ideas. Feel free to leave comments with some rights you think you have or should have.
Catch me at a Waxaholics event to learn more about your rights.