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My advice on avoiding legal trouble

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#1 Gamera



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Posted 14 December 2005 - 04:06 PM

I'd like to offer my advice to Mycotopiates, since its probably the one area where I have something somewhat useful to contribute.

First of all, I am an attorney. I don't practice criminal law but I take an interest in it. I have several acquaintances that do practice criminal law, both as criminal defense attorneys and as District Attorneys. I even have a close friend who works for the Department of Justice prosecuting mainly federal drug offenses. So I have a fairly good understanding of the criminal justice system, although its certainly far from comprehensive.

I offer a few tips on staying out of trouble and minimizing the trouble you may find yourself in.

First and foremost, growing mushrooms is illegal. Whatever your feelings on this, thats the situation and the starting point. What this means in practical terms is that you need to make this hobby as low profile as you can make it. Tell as few people as you can possibly manage. Don't tell your friends, don't tell your family, don't your roommates, don't tell anyone. Most busts occur because a grower gets turned in - someone tips off the cops, usually to save their own skin. Then the cops get an "informant warrant." These busts happen because they are easy for law enforcement. Some jerk gets pulled over for speeding, he's obviously high, he's arrested and his car gets searched, and a small amount of drugs found. They threaten him with a felony unless he tells them where he got them, which he does. Based on that, the cops get a search warrant, enter, search and find a grow. Easy bust for the cops, nice and neat. This is the main situation you want to avoid. Don't imagine for a second anyone is going to take the prison time rather than roll on you. Maybe your Mom, but no one else including your Dad.

Keep a low profile generally, blend into the fabric of society, avoid drawing attention to yourself. Especially don't be an asshole. The last thing you need is some neighbor with a grudge.

Don't give law enforcement any reason to take an interest in you. Don't give cops a reason to be at your house. Don't have a loud drunken party where you are growing. Don't set accidentally your house on fire. If you have drugs on you, don't drive drunk. Don't speed, don't run red lights, basically don't get pulled over. Your first line of defense is to not interact with law enforcement.

If you do interact with law enforcement, your next line of defense is to be harmless and respectful. Yes officer, sorry sir, it won't happen again. These are the magic words that will get you out of many sticky situations. Cops have a tremendous amount of leeway in how they do their jobs. They are forming impressions of you and the situation and making split second decisions on how to react, including deciding whether to arrest you. When you initially interact with a cop your first approach is to convince them to send you on your way. In this regard, although you may have every right to refuse, its not always a bad idea to consent to a search or admit to some illegal activities. If you are carrying a pound of pot in the truck, you might be better off admitting the joint in the ashtray to avoid a search of your car. If the cop thinks you are a threat or if you are getting up in his face about your civil rights, they will escalate the situation and you'll find yourself in handcuffs. A calm demeanor and a respectful attitude, these will de-escalate and tend to suggest to the cop that you are not the type of criminal he needs to be concerned with. Fortunately, this hobby is obscure and fairly benign, there are no mushroom cultivation task forces out to crack down on cubensis cultivators. Mushroom cultivators get busted because the bust falls into law enforcement's lap, not because they are out there working to bring them down, like for, say, meth labs.

In these preliminary encounters, a few thinks to keep in mind. If you are just high, you are basically scott free as long as you are not being an asshole. No one ever gets busted for just being high. Frankly, the drunk belligerent asshole is a lot more likely to get the attention of law enforcement than some spaced out hippy wandering around. This is particularly true with pot, which even if you are holding a small quantity is basically the equivalent of a parking ticket in most places. It won't even ruin your buzz. So don't freak out. If you are planning on going into the stratosphere, on the other hand, don't be wandering around downtown and carrying on like a lunatic. Thats going to land you in the emergency room at best, and then the cops are a lot more likely to take an interest. On a side note, I'll suggest that too many salvia smokers in the emergency room is the biggest threat to the continued legality of that substance. All its going to take is one high profile honor student wandering out into traffic and getting himself killed to make salvia a schedule 1 drug. Don't be that asshole.

If you are in a position where you can consent to a search, do so. That makes the cops life easier, and it makes you look cooperative. And there are a lot of ways they can get to a legal search. If you are in a position where you need to try and forestall a search, be very respectful and simply say, I don't consent to a search. But don't resist and don't be bellicose about it. Keep in mind that even if you are not under arrest, a cop can pat you down and pull out anything he feels. Also, anything in plain view is fair game. Keep everything out of sight and preferably locked up. The more you can claim an "expectation of privacy" the better. If you have roommates, let them know that they should not consent to a search on your behalf. I'll let you figure out how to finesse the issue if you are keeping them in the dark about your hobby. But there should be a "house rule" that nobody gives consent to searches on someone else's behalf.

If you are arrested, say nothing whatsoever to the extent possible. Admit nothing, and don't even deny anything, just don't say a thing. Definitely don't lie, thats another offense, and another bargaining chip for the DA. Ask to talk to a lawyer right away. That gets the cops off your back better than anything else you can do. They may try and convince you that things will be better off for you if you make some kind of admission, but don't believe them. Things that might not seem important or even relevant to you can be key elements to proving a case against you. Just keep your mouth shut and ask for a lawyer. Then, as soon as possible, hire a good lawyer. A good lawyer makes a huge difference. District attorneys are overworked and they can afford to take only a fraction of their cases to trial. They are there to make deals and plead cases out. The whole penal system is based on this "rough justice" that often has little or no relation to the actual facts. Having a good lawyer on your side just by itself makes them inclined to deal. And nine times out of ten, thats what you will end up doing. When you get arrested your end game is not how to prove your innocence but how to get the best plea deal.

The penalties for cultivation can be very steep. There's hard time for growing, like it or not. If you are looking at conviction, your best defense is that its for personal use, that you are not a drug dealer. So the less you have growing at any given time the better off you are. Those massive flushes look awesome but if you were to get busted with a few PF jars you are far better off then if you have a few pounds drying in your dehydrator. That could very easily be the difference between no time and several years. And again, being contrite, respectful and giving the impression that you are going to turn your life around are going to serve you well. One of the least understood power centers in the US is called "prosecutorial discretion." This means that the DA has extremely broad powers in deciding what charges to bring in any given case. They need to keep their "clients" in law enforcement satisfied but they also need to keep their cases moving. And in a "victimless" crime like possession they don't have the victim's family looking over their shoulder demanding justice. If you can manage to make a good impression on the DA that catches your case, it can make a huge difference in how things play out. Whatever you can do to give the DA incentive to cut you slack is in your best interest.

Thats basically it. Mostly common sense, but worth reflecting on. Just keep in mind that if you are smart and discreet there is basically zero chance of getting busted. And if you do get busted, being smart and getting an attorney can greatly minimize the impact.

Oh, one more thing. The laws making this illegal are completely fucking stupid to the point of being sickening. The backwards fucks that feel like its their business what I do in my own house in the privacy of MY OWN GODDAMN MIND are on the wrong end of history and can all go to hell. Mind your own fucking business you fucking pukes, don't eat mushrooms if you think its wrong or evil, I happen to think its fucking awesome and, hey, guess what, I'm a fucking adult and I can make up my own fucking mind. And you know what else, I'm fucking smarter than you and happier than you and healthier than you so go drink your vodka and take some more prozac and leave real drugs to people with a fucking clue. Mushroom cultivation is an absolute good and the best kind of civil disobedience in the face of the current creeping fascist mind control cult running the world at the moment.

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#2 Venice



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Posted 14 December 2005 - 04:33 PM

I enjoyed your post. Thanks for providing the common sense tips to everyone that have literally kept me out of jail my entire life.

I did crack up pretty hard at the last paragraph! I wish I knew an attorney like you!

#3 AfraidofAmerica



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Posted 14 December 2005 - 06:42 PM

Rock on man! Great info, well done. The bit on "prosecutional discretion" is going to come in handy :D


#4 Dank Side Of The Shroom

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 07:40 PM

yeah i enjoyed reading this post. some sound advice in there. thanks for refreshing me on some of the tactics when busted if it ever happens.

#5 shedthemonkey



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Posted 14 December 2005 - 09:14 PM

Great Read! Good to know. I understand your frustration with the man and the need for a good cloaking device for certain hobbies. Thanks for adding to our body of knowledge.

Stay safe everyone!


#6 Lefty


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Posted 17 February 2006 - 06:08 PM

Bump for some newer members that may have missed it. Good stuff right here.

#7 TVCasualty


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Posted 17 February 2006 - 06:49 PM

Nice to see people out there who give a damn about keeping people out of the kinds of trouble that have no business existing.

A book I read a few years ago spelled out many of the tips you gave, plus cited a lot of court cases to back the reader up should they choose to push the civil rights angle when talking to police (a dicey strategy, go with your gut). It's called You and the Police by Boston T. Party. I got it from Loompanics Unlimited, but think it's out of print.

Funny how in a nation of laws we weren't taught any law (not to mention our civil rights, or personal finance) in public school.

A tip I would add that has worked for me four times (and gotten me off without even a ticket, much less a search) is to turn on my interior light and have my hands visible as the officer who pulls me over approaches. This is at night, obviously. I've always had excessive hair, too, so it's not like I look respectable or anything. He's gonna flash his light in the car anyway, and your stuff is not in plain sight, right? Good.

Treat your car the way a pilot treats his airplane; before you go, make sure everything works/looks right.

#8 OmBudsMan


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Posted 17 February 2006 - 06:51 PM

Great post indeed. Thanks.

Don't forget...neither the police nor the DA work for you...they work for the State and in its best interest. So when they say they will take it easy on you and all the bs, don't buy it. Be smart and higher a good lawyer if the circumstances should arise.

#9 anticheffy


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Posted 17 February 2006 - 07:14 PM

BRAVO !!!!

great advice , advice Ive tried to live my life by and it truley does work.

yes sir, no sir, Im sorry sir , it wont happen again.

this attitude works with all but the most assholiest cops, really.

#10 TVCasualty


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Posted 17 February 2006 - 07:25 PM

There's three types of cop: the Peace Officer (endangered breed) who actually wants to help people and protect our rights; the Intimidating Cop of which the vast majority are; and the Rogue Cop who is essentially, well, rogue.

People into a little harmless personal enjoyment of mind altering chemistry need not fear the Peace Officer. These tips are needed and work well for the Intimidating cops. The rogue is...well, just pray you don't cross paths with one of these. A lot of the rogues seem to come from the federal level. Learn to identify what you are dealing with, and have a response in mind for each, from "Yes, sir" to "You are required to tell me your reasonable articulable suspicion for detaining me" to running like hell.

#11 Stenciler



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Posted 19 February 2006 - 05:35 PM running like hell.

I've tried, but I can't run that fast, lol.
good advice about turning on the light, works well for me too. Look as cooperative as possible, but maintain your basic rights.

#12 Hippie3



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Posted 19 February 2006 - 07:09 PM

archive material

#13 jrogers311



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Posted 19 February 2006 - 07:12 PM

Thanks and amen bro:eusa_clap

#14 OZ



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Posted 19 February 2006 - 08:00 PM

i know your wife aor husband cannot testify against you in a court of law, but does taht same privelidge apply to brothers/sisters, or parents?

#15 bub



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Posted 20 February 2006 - 06:34 PM

Nice post :cacti:

Not telling anyone, unless you can trust him with your life (handful of people if that) really is key. What's the point of telling anyone anyway-he would never really understand what you are doing unless he grows himself. The self-satisfaction of knowing I'm growing a gift from God is enough glory I need.

"Mushroom cultivation is an absolute good and the best kind of civil disobedience in the face of the current creeping fascist mind control cult running the world at the moment."

So true..

#16 Stenciler



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Posted 20 February 2006 - 07:21 PM

I vent my urges to talk about it by posting here :D

#17 Gamera



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Posted 21 February 2006 - 04:57 PM

i know your wife aor husband cannot testify against you in a court of law, but does taht same privelidge apply to brothers/sisters, or parents?

It does not apply to anyone other than a spouse. And keep in mind that the priviledge only means that your spouse cannot be forced to testify against you (or found in contempt and put in jail if she refuses to testify). It doesn't mean that you can keep your spouse from testifying against you if she wants to.

#18 Hippie3



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Posted 21 February 2006 - 07:10 PM

that doesn't mean the authorities cannot 'pressure' the spouse
into testifying
with threats of prosecution for various crimes.

#19 BuckarooBanzai


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Posted 21 February 2006 - 09:57 PM

EXCELLENT post, Gamera. Well thought out and eloquently written.

I bet you write a mean brief...

#20 unsane


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Posted 22 February 2006 - 08:10 AM

that doesn't mean the authorities cannot 'pressure' the spouse
into testifying
with threats of prosecution for various crimes

TRUE Like my grandpa used to say "You dont know your friends untill there standing in front of a judge":eusa_thin

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