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Old 09-10-2011, 08:07   #1
eracer
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Compliance question

What's the purpose of asking someone if they've "ever been arrested before?"

Am I required by law to answer that question during a traffic stop?
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Old 09-10-2011, 08:26   #2
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You aren't required to answer anything. Watch an episode of "Cops" (the television show). It seems that almost everyone arrested volunteers information, consents to search, and generally acts stupid/disrespectful. Do the opposite and you should be better off.
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Old 09-10-2011, 08:35   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eracer View Post
What's the purpose of asking someone if they've "ever been arrested before?"

Am I required by law to answer that question during a traffic stop?
If I already know the answer, it can help establish if they are a liar.

If I don't, and they provide me with details, it helps me in the course of my investigation.

Are you required to answer? Well, depends on circumstances, what state you are in, and what the purpose of the investigation is. If you refuse to answer, or lie, I suppose you could catch a charge.
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Old 09-10-2011, 08:51   #4
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Well I always ask, in the areas I work the chances are pretty good that they have been arrested before. i like to see if they are on parole or probation. It also helps me confirm identity when I run a name check. We get a lot of warrants hits.
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Old 09-10-2011, 09:47   #5
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If you've got my D/L are you going to see my entire arrest record?

And if I refuse to answer (which I believe is my right, even if I'm not under arrest) does that create justification for a charge of 'impeding an investigation?'

I know I'm required to identify myself during a traffic stop if I'm the driver (even if it doesn't escalate to the level of a Terry stop,) but would cause for a vehicle and/or person search be established if I refuse to answer any question beyond a request for identification?
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Old 09-10-2011, 09:49   #6
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Old 09-10-2011, 09:51   #7
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Originally Posted by 3.slow View Post
You aren't required to answer anything. Watch an episode of "Cops" (the television show). It seems that almost everyone arrested volunteers information, consents to search, and generally acts stupid/disrespectful. Do the opposite and you should be better off.
Best free internet advice from an unknown source I've heard all week!
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Old 09-10-2011, 09:53   #8
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Mostly I do it to see if they are a liar or not. Sometimes it is to confirm a record or to see if there is a picture in the system (like when they don't have an ID).

If you lie, it makes me a lot more suspicious. But if a cop asks you if you have been arrested before and you say "I'd rather not answer that question." We are all going to assume it means yes. It doesn't really change anything with my interaction other than to know who I'm dealing with.
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Old 09-10-2011, 09:55   #9
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Originally Posted by eracer View Post
If you've got my D/L are you going to see my entire arrest record?

And if I refuse to answer (which I believe is my right, even if I'm not under arrest) does that create justification for a charge of 'impeding an investigation?'

I know I'm required to identify myself during a traffic stop if I'm the driver (even if it doesn't escalate to the level of a Terry stop,) but would cause for a vehicle and/or person search be established if I refuse to answer any question beyond a request for identification?
I can pull up local arrest records and if I have your license, then yes I can see it because I have your information. I typically wouldn't ask because I know unless I"m trying to see how truthful you are.

Your refusal to answer the question of if you have been arrested or not does NOT establish PC for me to search your car. There has to be more of it. Consequently your refusal to provide consent to search you or your vehicle or belongings does not in and of itself provide PC for me to search you.
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Old 09-10-2011, 10:06   #10
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Originally Posted by merlynusn View Post
I can pull up local arrest records and if I have your license, then yes I can see it because I have your information. I typically wouldn't ask because I know unless I"m trying to see how truthful you are.

Your refusal to answer the question of if you have been arrested or not does NOT establish PC for me to search your car. There has to be more of it. Consequently your refusal to provide consent to search you or your vehicle or belongings does not in and of itself provide PC for me to search you.
Thanks. For me personally the question is pretty irrelevant, since the only arrest I have on my record was for driving without insurance back in 1981. I've got the Safe Driver D/L endorsement, blah, blah, blah, and I generally fall more on the side of making an officer feel safe when he stops me for a traffic violation.

Example, my GF was driving through Georgia on our way north when she got pulled over around midnight by a trooper for going 5 over on I-75. I have tinted windows in my truck (probably not legal in some states...) and told her to roll the front and rear windows down, and turn on the dome lights.

I know some non-LEO's and attorneys will gasp at that, but I think the officer saw that as a sign that I was more interested in making him feel safe than concealing anything from him. Did I open myself up to a vehicle search? Sure. I'm betting that most cops would look at her record, appreciate the gesture, and let us be on our way. He did.

I asked the 'have you been arrested' question because I'm truly curious as to what the point of that question is.

Thanks for answering.
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Old 09-10-2011, 10:47   #11
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I ask it because it often helps ID someone who does not have their ID with them. If they have been arrested they have been fingerprinted and photographed.
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Old 09-10-2011, 10:53   #12
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Originally Posted by CAcop View Post
I ask it because it often helps ID someone who does not have their ID with them. If they have been arrested they have been fingerprinted and photographed.
This and also like others have said determines if someone is being truthful. If I am working an area high in prostitution and you are driving around in circles with your driver side window down on a cold night and you have 3 previous arrests for solicitation of prostitution, it also gives me a clue on what you are probably doing in my area.

Could be lots of reasons....
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Old 09-10-2011, 11:13   #13
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This and also like others have said determines if someone is being truthful. If I am working an area high in prostitution and you are driving around in circles with your driver side window down on a cold night and you have 3 previous arrests for solicitation of prostitution, it also gives me a clue on what you are probably doing in my area.

Could be lots of reasons....
I'd like to believe the motorist was circling because he was lost or the GPS malfunctioned and was instructing the motorist to keep making right turns. And the window rolled down because the car heater was set on high and the controls was broken and can't adjust the heat down.
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Old 09-10-2011, 11:26   #14
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Originally Posted by merlynusn View Post
But if a cop asks you if you have been arrested before and you say "I'd rather not answer that question." We are all going to assume it means yes.
And if I refuse to let a cop search my trunk, we are all going to assume I have a dead body, an AK-47 and a bag of cocaine there?
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Old 09-10-2011, 11:46   #15
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I like to ask to see if I reecognize them from a prior encounter or if I see them at the gym regularly. Often, it's both.

Also, it provides pertinent discussion while we wait on records returns, me to decide what your up to, and what we're going to do next.
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Old 09-10-2011, 11:48   #16
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And if I refuse to let a cop search my trunk, we are all going to assume I have a dead body, an AK-47 and a bag of cocaine there?
Doesn't everybody?

I got a big kit when I bought my car that had all that stuff in it. I had to put the dead hooker together though, and the instructions were in the worst Engrish I'd ever suffered through reading.
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Old 09-10-2011, 12:00   #17
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Originally Posted by 3.slow View Post
You aren't required to answer anything. Watch an episode of "Cops" (the television show). It seems that almost everyone arrested volunteers information, consents to search, and generally acts stupid/disrespectful. Do the opposite and you should be better off.
This....

Additionally, my favorite responses are:
"Who, me?"
"Not recently"
"What do you mean by arrested?"
"Around here?"
"Today?"
"Na"

..........
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Old 09-10-2011, 12:43   #18
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I'm bored.

I like to ask questions like that.

Never know what the answer will be.

Looks good on the camera.

Take your pick.
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Old 09-10-2011, 12:50   #19
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And if I refuse to let a cop search my trunk, we are all going to assume I have a dead body, an AK-47 and a bag of cocaine there?

What good are civil rights if they aren't infringed upon occasionally? You know... if you don't abuse them, you lose them.
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Old 09-10-2011, 12:53   #20
steveksux
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If you've got my D/L are you going to see my entire arrest record?
Depends on the state and the level of suspicion. I think a "normal" search in MI won't reveal arrest records, just traffic. If they are suspicious and have your information run through LEIN, it'll show arrests and whatnot.

Different states can set up their computer systems as they see fit, some may get more info, or get it all, some may not.

Randy

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