Rights - from National Lawyers Guild
hunterbadbear at earthlink.net
Tue Sep 25 14:12:43 MDT 2001
In a message dated 9/25/01 2:18:44 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
toplab at toplab.org writes:
<< forwarded here, revised draft for national lawyers guild rights summary.
this is near-final text for Know Your Rights pamphlet. National Lawyers
Guild contact is riva enteen: nlgriva at pacbell.net 415 285 1055
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!
What rights do I have?
The Right to Advocate for Change. The First Amendment to the U.S.
Constitution protects the rights of groups and individuals who advocate
changes in laws, government practices, and even the form of government.
The Right to Remain Silent. The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution
that every person has the right to remain silent in the face of questions
posed by any police officer or government agent.
The Right to be Free from "Unreasonable Searches and Seizures." The Fourth
Amendment is supposed to protect your privacy. Without a warrant, no
government agent is allowed to search your home or office and you can
to let them in. Know, however, that it is easy for the government to
monitor your telephone calls, conversations in your office, home, car, or
meeting place, as well as mail. E-mail is particularly insecure. The
government has already begun stepping up its monitoring of e-mails.
CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS CANNOT BE SUSPENDED -- EVEN DURING
A STATE OF EMERGENCY OR WARTIME.
What should I do if agents come to question me?
1. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO TALK TO THE POLICE, FBI, INS, OR ANY OTHER LAW
ENFORCEMENT AGENT OR INVESTIGATOR. Other than providing your name and
address to a police officer who is investigating a crime, you are not
legally obligated to talk to anyone: on the street, at your home or office,
if you've been arrested, or even if you're in jail. Only a judge has the
legal authority to order you to answer questions.
2. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO LET POLICE OR OTHER LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENTS INTO YOUR
HOME OR OFFICE UNLESS THEY HAVE A SEARCH WARRANT OR ARREST WARRANT. Demand
to see the warrant. The warrant must specifically describe the place to be
searched and the things to be seized. If they have a warrant, you cannot
stop them from entering and searching, but you should still tell them that
you do not consent to a search. This will limit them to the scope of the
search authorized by the warrant.
3. IF THEY DO PRESENT A WARRANT, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO MONITOR THEIR
AND ACTIVITIES. You have the right to observe what they do. You have the
right to ask them for their names and titles. Take written notes including
their names, badge numbers, and what agency they are from. Have your
who are present act as witnesses. Give this information to your lawyer. A
warrant does not give the government the right to question, nor does it
obligate you to answer questions.
4. IF THE POLICE OR FBI OR INS OR ANYONE ELSE TRIES TO QUESTION YOU OR
TRIES TO ENTER YOUR HOME WITHOUT A WARRANT, JUST SAY NO! Police and other
law enforcement agents are very skilled at getting information from people.
Many people are afraid that if they refuse to cooperate, it will appear as
if they have something to hide. Don't be fooled. The police are allowed to
(and do) lie to you. Although agents may seem nice and pretend to be on
your side, they are likely to be intent on learning about the habits,
opinions, and affiliations of people not suspected of wrongdoing, with the
end goal of stopping political activity with which the government
Trying to answer agents' questions, or trying to "educate them" about your
cause can be very dangerous. You can never tell how a seemingly harmless
of information that you give them might be used and misconstrued to hurt
or someone else. And keep in mind that lying to a federal agent is a crime.
5. IF YOU ARE STOPPED ON THE STREET, ASK IF YOU ARE FREE TO GO. If you
stopped by the police, ask them why. If they do not have a good reason for
stopping you, or if you find yourself chatting for more than about a
ask "Am I under arrest, or am I free to go?" If they do not state that you
are under arrest, tell them that you do not wish to continue speaking with
them and that you are going to go about your business. Then do so.
6. ANYTHING YOU SAY TO THE POLICE, FBI, INS, ETC. WILL BE USED AGAINST YOU
AND OTHERS. Once you've been arrested, you cannot talk your way out of it!
Don't try to engage the cops in dialogue or respond to their accusations.
7. In California, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO MAKE 3 FREE LOCAL TELEPHONE CALLS
within three hours of your arrest on state charges if you are booked into
jail. You have a right to call a lawyer, a bail bondsperson, and a friend
or relative. If arrested by federal authorities, you also have a right to
a phone call. Demand to make those calls.
8. THE FBI MAY THREATEN YOU WITH A GRAND JURY SUBPOENA IF YOU DON'T TALK
THEM. They may give you a subpoena anyway, so anything you tell them may
permit them to ask you more detailed questions later. You may also have
legal grounds to refuse to answer questions before a grand jury. If you are
given a grand jury subpoena, you should call a lawyer immediately (see
contact information at the end). Tell your friends and movement groups
about the subpoena and discuss how to respond. Do not try to deal with this
9. IF YOU ARE NERVOUS ABOUT SIMPLY REFUSING TO TALK, TELL THEM TO CONTACT
YOUR LAWYER. They should stop trying to question you once you announce your
desire to consult a lawyer. You do not have to already have one. Remember
to get the name, agency, and telephone number of any investigator who
you, and contact the National Lawyers Guild for help getting a lawyer.
How should I respond to threatening letters or calls?
If your home or office is broken into, or threats have been made against
you, your organization, or someone you work with, share this information
with everyone affected. Take immediate steps to increase personal and
security. You should discuss with your organization and with a lawyer
whether and how to report such incidents to the police and the advisability
of taking other legal action. If you decide to make a report, do not do so
without a lawyer present.
What if I suspect surveillance?
Prudence is the best course, no matter who you suspect, or what the basis
of your suspicion. Do not hesitate to confront suspected agents politely,
public, with at least one other person present, and inquire about their
business. If the suspect declines to answer, he or she at least now knows
that you are aware of the surveillance. If you suspect government agents
are monitoring you, or are harassing you, report this to the National
What if I am not a citizen?
1. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO REVEAL YOUR IMMIGRATION STATUS. We cannot count on
the police to honor local sanctuary ordinances, and the fact that the INS
obtained your name in violation of a sanctuary ordinance will NOT prevent
you from being deported.
2. FOREIGN NATIONALS HAVE THE RIGHT TO CALL THEIR CONSULATE if arrested in
the U.S., under the Vienna Convention.
3. DO NOT TALK TO THE INS, EVEN ON THE PHONE, before talking to an
immigration lawyer. Many INS officers view "enforcement," meaning deporting
people, as their primary job. They do not believe that explaining
immigration options is part of their job, and most will readily admit this.
(Noncitizens who are victims of domestic abuse should speak with an expert
in both immigration law and domestic violence.) A noncitizen should always
speak with an immigration law expert before speaking to the INS either in
person or by telephone.
4. KNOW AND ASSERT YOUR RIGHTS!
All noncitizens have the following rights, regardless of your immigration
a. The right to speak to an attorney before answering any questions or
signing any documents;
b. The right to a hearing with an Immigration Judge;
c. The right to have an attorney at that hearing and in any interview with
INS (however you do not have the right to a free, government-paid lawyer);
d. The right to request release from detention, by paying a bond if
Noncitizens must assert these rights. If you do not demand these rights,
you can be deported without seeing either an attorney or a judge. Leaving
the U.S. in this way may have serious consequences for your ability to
enter or to gain legal immigration status in the U.S.
5. TALK TO AN IMMIGRATION LAWYER BEFORE LEAVING THE U.S.
Anyone not a U.S. citizen may be barred from coming back to the U.S. if
fall into certain categories of people barred from entering. This includes
some lawful permanent residents and applicants for green cards. Some
noncitizens that have been in the U.S. without INS permission may be
permanently barred from re-entering. In addition, some noncitizens that
leave the US and return with INS permission may be swiftly removed from the
U.S. if they end up in immigration proceedings.
National Lawyers Guild Bay Area legal hotline for local and federal police/
(415) 285-1055 or 255-0796.
National office: (212) 627-2656, www.nlg.org <http://www.nlg.org/>
*[A local immigration contact]*
National Immigration Project: (617) 227-9727
Immigration law information is also available on <http://www.nilc.org/>
American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Report hate crimes and harassment against Arab Americans and Muslims to
ADC-SF (415) 861-7444 or ADC-National (202) 244-2990, and to the American
Civil Liberties Union of Northern California: (415) 621-2493.
Hunter Gray [Hunterbear]
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