I’ll tell you. But first, a little back-story:
Awhile back, I was pulled over for minor traffic infraction and subsequently arrested for possessing a (fairly small) amount of marijuana, a grinder and a scale. I also had in my possession anti-psychotic pills, and a single .5 mg alprazolam. I was taken to jail and charged in one of the most strict, law-and-order counties, in a notoriously conservative state. Needless to say, this was a pretty open-and-shut case, and I didn’t stand much chance.
From my mistakes, you can learn much. Hopefully you’re reading this proactively, and you have not become victim to the system. Even if you’ve already been charged, you can still take away some highly useful information from my tale. It won’t work magic, and you will probably still do some unpleasant fine-paying and community service, but it may make your life a lot more bearable.
To read my advice only and skip the anecdotes (lazy asses),skip all but the italicized paragraphs.
To start with, read and memorize this entire post. It will prep you on the basics of preventing arrest in the first place, and offer some great tools to help you with police encounters. If you’ve already been arrested, it will do no good for your current situation, but you can find out where you went wrong. The part that eventually got me (and gets most people arrested for drugs) is traveling with weed.
I had smoked up at my friend/dealers house, and stashed my new stash in my pocket, planning on putting it in my trunk later. Well I got too far stoned that day, and promptly forgot all about that. Fast forward to a few minutes later, and I performed a u-turn into a left lane which ended and merged into the lane next to it. I had apparently forgotten to signal that merge, because shortly after I was seeing the red and blues behind me.
My initial encounter actually went quite well. I confidently defended my reasons for the illegal merge, including a truck which had (truthfully) distracted me by coming off the highway and immediately coming to a near stop whilst cutting across traffic. The officer ensured me that I’d only be issued a warning, and pulled me out of the car “to keep an eye on me.”
As he was walking away, I rested my hands in the pocket of my hoodie. The officer became nervous and walked back over to “make sure I didn’t have any bazookas or anything crazy like that” (his words). Eventually he arrived at the dirty pocket and discovered my little stash of goodies.
From this, all I can say is be conscious of your every move while talking to an officer. Police are acutely aware of body language, voice inflection, eye movement and hand movement, and are heavily trained to spot suspicious activity. And when you think about it from their perspective, it literally can save their life. I don’t believe the laws make any sense or that they should be enforced so heavily in such biased areas, but we simply have to deal with them. If you’re choosing to break them (as I do), you must take extreme measures to protect yourself, or start making a savings account for your inevitable court case.
Keep your hands out of your pockets, perhaps clasp them in front of you if necessary. DO NOT rest your thumbs or hands on your waist or belt, as an officer will notice this and become suspicious of what’s under there. ABSOLUTELY DO NOT put them inside your pockets or make any movement that could be interpreted as reaching into your pocket. This scares the hell out of the officer and he will want to frisk you.
An officer is legally allowed to search your person for weapons in every state I know of. This is the source of much confusion for many people, so I want you all to be aware of it. He can search your outer body, including your pockets, hat, waistline, socks and shoes. You cannot refuse a search of your person for their protection, for any reason. However, you absolutely can refuse a search of your vehicle, and even if you think you might not be able to, do it anyway.
For this reason, leave your bud in the car. If you’re walking or something, a locked backpack. No locked backpack? The shoes or socks (beneath ankle, out of view) are the best places. I’ve been frisked a number of times, and the first time I ever had my socks or shoes inspected was at the jail before booking. And that brings me to another point…
Don’t bring marijuana or paraphernalia into jail! If the cop missed something and you think you’re gonna be slick and get away with it, the jail guards will NOT be fooled. They check every pocket, nook, cranny, sock, shoe, anus, scrotum, etc. And if they find anything in there, congratulations you’ve just committed a felony.
While being questioned by the officer and driven to the jail, I was on my best behavior. I didn’t make small talk and try to be his friend, but I always called him sir and answered his questions respectfully. Before entering the booking process, I was interrogated by a narcotics officer. He wanted to know where the weed came from, and offered me tempting plea agreements. Being a noble stoner, I respectfully declined his offer.
While being interrogated, do not give the officers any incriminating information about yourself whatsoever. In fact, the only thing to come out of your mouth should be: “I’d like to have my lawyer present.” Your 5th amendment rights apply here, but you must verbally assert them. If you don’t, you may have a much harder time having the interrogation thrown out. Even if you don’t think you have a chance in court, you’ll want to keep every available option open, as they can be used as bargaining tools later.
After what proved to be a fruitless interrogation for the “narc,” as he referred to himself, I was sent through to begin my booking process. Booking entails all the classic “jail scene” stereotypes, including getting your mugshot and fingerprints taken. They took a handful of pictures, including documenting any tattoos I might have. Then they took individual fingerprints for every finger, as well as my entire hand and side of my hand. It’s a tedious process, but honestly one of the more enjoyable parts of the entire experience. Mostly because I was doing something.
Before all that, however, was the process of dehumanization. Namely, the strip search and issuance of prison garb. I had never known exactly what a strip search entailed before this, so it was a learning experience. To spell it out, here is the process:
I am told to remove my clothes, as well as to turn every article inside-out, to ensure nothing was hidden in there. Once nude, I was instructed to rustle my hair with my fingers. You may be familiar with the “spread your cheeks and lift your sack” Dave Chappelle stand up bit. Well, that’s pretty much spot on. I was made to lift my sack to reveal any obscured contents, then spread my cheeks and cough. Once they were satisfied with their little peep show, I was given inmate pants and shirt, and led out of the shower room. I never received socks or underwear throughout my stay.
Boredom like nothing I have ever experienced in my life then ensued. If you want to recreate the holding cell experience, all you’ll need is an empty cement room. There is nothing in this room except for a roll of toilet paper which will serve the lucky owner as a pillow. At night you’re issued a single blanket. There’s no pillow, there are no beds, you simply sit in the cell. Time did not pass in this room, it stagnated eternally.
There is a single phone in the holding cell, and the “one phone call” rule is a myth. You only get a single free phone call if you’re issued a PR (personal recognizance) bond. Otherwise, you are able to call anyone you want at the exorbitant collect call fees. The phone will also serve as a clock; you simply dial a number and a robot informs you of the time. This can either be comforting or maddening, depending on the circumstance. Usually a combination of both.
If you have someone on the outside working for your release, they will be a great boon to your ability to leave in a timely fashion. Otherwise, there is likely a list of bondsmen taped to the window, and you’ll need to set up something with them. Bonds work like this:
Your bail is set by a magistrate judge, who decides (based upon the severity of your crimes and your criminal history) how much it’s going to cost to get you out. You can pay your bail by yourself, and you will be refunded the fee after your court case and retribution are fully paid off. Many times the bail is set much too high to afford such an option, so you’ll need to work with a bondsman.
A bondsman will pay for your bail, if you pay him 10% of your bail + a processing fee. Meaning, if you had a $10,000 bail, you’ll need to pay a bondsman approximately $1,500 or thereabout. Using a bondsman, you will not get ANY of your money back. They are fronting their own money for it, so they will. They also really want to get their money back, so they’ll have you check in with them every week or so.
Now, I wouldn’t say court was terrible, but it was extremely tedious. Everything about a court experience is incredibly tedious, from the moment it starts. When I’d walked into the courtroom I noticed that employees were very methodical. In fact, I’d go so far as to say they’re just slow. Your time is of no import to them, and it is quite obvious that you are simply interrupting more important business.
When you meet with your attorney – and you will be hiring an attorney, goddamn it – you’ll contemplate the all-important question of, “what choice do I make?” Your lawyer can guide you through this to varying degrees, but eventually you’ll have to decide between a few options. The most common two are: ‘try for a lenient probation’ or ‘fight the charge.’
If you’re deciding to fight the charge, that’s great! But make sure you know what the hell you’re doing before you jump into something like that. If you’re unable to win your case you very-well may create a larger problem than otherwise. Listen to the lawyer, you’re paying them good money for the advice.
If you opt for deferred adjudication, pre-trial intervention, or a similar program then you’ll want to be a model citizen for a little while. That means no getting into trouble, and no drugs that will show up on a drug test (check out this link for info on drug tests and drugs that won’t trip a drug test). It’s also a good time to practice your lying, as you’ll be doing a lot of it when they ask you about your drug history.
Eventually I ended up with a type of deferred adjudication, or pre-trial intervention. There would be no conviction and no other punishment, but the catch is I had to complete a program to do so. This included a bit of community service, monthly drug tests, and an education program that lasted a few months. It was not hard, but most of it was in another county and it was a mild pain in the ass to wake up early and get to the program. I took lots of tramadol (doesn’t show up on tests) during this time period.
My experience was pretty enlightening as to how our judicial system works, at the lower levels. If you’re reading this you are already 500% better off than the next guy, because it means you’re doing your research. Most of your peers have no idea what our laws are or how to protect yourself before and after being arrested. So feel good for that. And if you’re willing to read this, it probably means you’re willing to jump through a few hoops to move beyond the bullshit.
If I were to write a guide to passing probation it would be this:
- It is designed for you to fail, make sure you do not.
- Show up early, do not miss anything under any circumstances.
- Update your PO on anything at all that interferes with your requirements.
- Don’t be the brown-noser, but don’t be the slacker. Basically, do your shit and don’t show off.
- Don’t fail the goddamn drug test!
This probation bullshit is just that – bullshit. It is made to be a pain in the ass, to see just how much you really care about “society.” It will make you hate “society.” But it’s ok, because when you pass and cheat the system is when you win.
Don’t give into temptation and smoke weed or do drugs that will show up on a test. Psychedelics (LSD, mushrooms, ketamine, 2c-*, DO*, *-NBOMe, etc.) should pass any but the most advanced test. Tramadol and kratom are the only ways I know to get your opiate fix. Sometimes you can cheat the opiate test with opioids, but I wouldn’t really trust it. Most synthetic cannabinoids will beat the test, though I can’t really recommend those because they can be unsafe or unknown.
Thanks for reading, if you have any questions or comments please leave them below! Or email email@example.com