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LEGAL ADVICE

Any discussion about what to do while waiting fur the lawyer has to be qualified by pointing out that from the moment of arrest through the court appearances, cops tend to disregard a defendant’s rights. Nonetheless, you should play it according to the book whenever possible as you might get your case bounced out on a technicality. When you get busted, rule number one is that you have the right to remain silent. We advise that you give only your name and address. There is a legal dispute about whether or not you are obligated under the law to do even that, but most lawyers feel you should. The address can be that of a friend if you’re uptight about the pigs knowing where you live.

When the pigs grab you, chances are they are going to insult you, rough you up a little and maybe even try to plant some evidence on you. Try to keep your cool. Any struggle on your part, even lying on the street limp, can be considered resisting arrest. Even if you beat the original charge, you can be found guilty of resisting and receive a prison sentence. Often if the pigs beat you, they will say that you attacked them and generally charge you with assault.

If you are stopped in the street on suspicion (which means you’re black or have long hair), the police have the right to pat you down to see if you are carrying a weapon. They cannot search you unless they place you under arrest. Technically, this can only be done in the police station where they have the right to examine your possessions. Thus, if you are in a potential arrest situation, you should refrain from carrying dope, sharp objects that can be classified as a weapon, and the names and phone numbers of people close to you, like your dealer, your local bomb factory, and your friends underground.

Forget about talking your way out of it or escaping once you’re in the car or paddy wagon. In the police station, insist on being allowed to call your lawyer. Getting change might be a problem so you should always have a few dimes hidden. Since many cases are dismissed because of this, you’ll generally be allowed to make some calls, but it might take a few hours. Call a close friend and tell him to get all the cash that can be quickly raised and head down to the court house. Usually the police will let you know where you’ll be taken. If they don’t, just tell your friend what precinct you’re being held at, and he can call the central police headquarters and find out what court you’ll be appearing in. Ask your friend to also call a lawyer which you also should do if you get another phone call. Hang up and dial a lawyer or defense committee that has been set up for demonstrations. The lawyer will either come to the station or meet you in court depending on the severity of the charge and the likelihood you’ll be beaten in the station. When massive demonstrations are occurring where a number of busts are anticipated, it’s best to have lawyers placed in police stations in the immediate vicinity.

The lawyer will want to know as many details as possible of the case so try and concentrate on remembering a number of things since the pigs aren’t going to let you take notes. If you can, remember the name and badge number of the fink that busted you. Sometimes they’ll switch arresting officers on you. Remember the time, location of the bust and any potential witnesses that the lawyer might be able to contact.

If you are unable to locate a lawyer, don’t panic, the court will assign you one at the time of the arraignment. Legal Aid lawyers are free and can usually do as good a job as a private lawyer at an arraignment. Often they can do better, as the judge might set a lower bail if he sees you can’t afford a private lawyer. The arraignment is probably the first place you’ll find out what the charges are against you. There will also be a court date set and bail established. The amount of bail depends on a variety of factors ranging from previous convictions to the judge’s hangover. It can be put up in collateral, i.e., a bank book, or often there is a cash alternative offered which amounts to about 10% of the total bail.

Your friend should be in the court with some cash (at least a hundred dollars is recommended). For very high bail, there are the bail bondsmen in the area of the courthouse who will cover the bail for a fee,generally not to exceed 5%. You will need some signatures of solid citizens to sign the bail papers and perhaps put up some collateral.

Once you get bailed out, you should contact a private lawyer, preferably one that has experience with your type of case. If you are low on bread, check out one of the community or movement legal groups in your area. It is not advisable to keep the legal aid lawyer beyond the arraignment if at all possible.

If you’re in a car or in your home, the police do not have a right to search the premises without a search warrant or probable cause. Do not consent to any search without a warrant, especially if there are witnesses around who can hear you. Without your consent, the pigs must prove probable cause in the court. It’s unbelievable the number of defendants that not only come naked, but pull their own pants down. Make the cops kick in the door or break open the trunk themselves. You are under no obligation to assist them in collecting evidence, and helping them weakens your case.

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