Earlier this week, as a part of our 2017 Reader Submission Contest, we brought you the tale of the nightmare experienced by one of our readers. His son was caught carrying a knife which was not in fact illegal in the State of Michigan, but was nonetheless charged with possession of an illegal knife.
The American Knife and Tool Institute (AKTI), the trade group for the knife industry and an advocate for knife owners, shared this story in an email blast this afternoon along with a piece titled: Encounters with Law Enforcement. It outlines how to handle yourself if you find yourself in an interaction with the authorities while carrying a knife. It was written by attorney Anthony Sculimbrene of the blog EverydayCommentary (yes that Anthony Sculimbrene).
The piece has the standard disclaimer about not being formal legal advice, rather is meant to be a set of practical guidelines. That said, it closely matches a similar piece by Evan F. Nappen written for Blade Magazine. I encourage you to read both pieces, as they could save you a tremendous amount of hassle and heartbreak.
Stage 1: Law Enforcement Approaching
As the officer approaches, be calm, non-confrontational, and responsive to his or her requests. Do not try to hide or dispose of items. Never physically engage the officer or make threatening statements. Keep your hands visible and do not make sudden movements or fidget.
Stage 2: Interaction with Law Enforcement
Once engaged by the officer, you should immediately ask if you are free to leave. If the officer says yes, leave immediately. If the officer says no, tell the officer that you will comply with his requests but only after you have consulted with a lawyer.
Stage 3: Arrest or Seizure
If you not free to leave assert your Miranda rights as soon as you can. Tell the police the following:
I want a lawyer immediately.
I do not want to talk without my lawyer present.
I do not want to waive any rights.
Do not ask me to waive my rights at a later time.
I do not consent to any searches
Assert your right to a lawyer first and repeatedly. It is the strongest Miranda right.
The AKTI piece goes on to explain what to do throughout the booking process and afterwards. As I said, read the whole thing.
Bottom line, it is not in your interest to talk to the police, even if you believe you are innocent. Regent Law Professor James Duane explains the situation in the video below. It is somewhat lengthy (it would be even longer if he didn’t speak so ungodly fast), but is actually incredibly entertaining as well as informative. I have watched it several times over the last few years and cannot recommend it highly enough. The second half of the video is a rebuttal from an LEO who is also fairly entertaining.
I would like to thank Jan Billeb, Executive Director of AKTI, for leaving a comment on our piece this week, as well as for what help our reader reports they provided while he was going through this terrible situation. I appreciate AKTI’s sharing of our reader’s story in their email blast as well.