While we are certainly lucky that we no longer live in a time when it was common for the police to interrogate suspects with rubber hoses, there are still several different ways that they can mess with you while our Lady Justice just looks on.
For instance they can steal your stuff; let’s say your car has been stolen but luckily the police inform you it has been found. Then they tell you that it was used to smuggle drugs over the border and the thief ran over several people while doing so and guess what, they are keeping your car (known as civil asset forfeiture). It is legal for them to do this even if they only suspect it was used in a crime and there doesn’t even have to be a conviction. Since this is such a simple process for cops it is believed that over 45% of police departments actually figure their budget around these types of forfeitures.
They can also just “guesstimate” how fast you were going and give you a ticket; yep, the Supreme Court in Ohio (5 -1 decision) said that trained police officers do not need any electronic gizmos or gadgets in order to tell if a driver was speeding. Seriously, the officer’s visual estimation of speed is adequate to convict you of speeding.
You can be arrested while drinking in a bar; in some states, like Texas, there have been so many drunk driving fatalities that someone decided to dust off some old law and decided that when it comes to “public intoxication” a bar is considered to be the “public” part; you don’t even have to step outside. And, they can arrest you on a mere hunch, no breathalyzer test is needed.
In three (and rapidly growing in number) states it is now illegal to film an on duty police officer; this applies even (or especially) if they happen to be beating on a handicapped suspect in the middle of the street as all parties must consent to filming. While there are 12 states that do enforce the all parties must consent law, only three of them (Maryland, Massachusetts and Illinois) so far interpret it to include open places of gathering where no one has an expectation of privacy.
They can even steal (or borrow) your identity; in 2002 Ohio passed a law making it legal for law enforcement agencies to take a citizens personal information like their name, social security number, drivers license number, etc. and allow an undercover officer to use it during an investigation. So, if you start to get notices or emails from someone asking to meet you for anything a bit seedy you may want to contact your local police department to see if they have borrowed your identity.
- You’ve Got to be Shitting Me (barbaradiamond.blogspot.com)
- UK Man Convicted Of A Crime For Letting Drivers Know They Should Slow Down To Avoid Speed Camera (techdirt.com)
- South Carolinians Demand Traffickers Pay the Bill for Their Crime (humantrafficking.change.org)
- As The Feds Seize Domains, More Attention Paid To How Law Enforcement Regularly Abuses Asset Seizures (techdirt.com)
- Oregon police officer killed during struggle (cnn.com)