We recently had an opportunity to attend the NORML Key West Legal Seminar in Key West, Florida. One of the highlights of the event was an inspirational speech on "Representing the Poor and Disenfranchised" delivered by legendary Baltimore Criminal Defense Attorney, William H. “Billy” Murphy, Jr.
William H. “Billy” Murphy, Jr., spoke about how an ineffective "War on Drugs" disproportionally impacts people of color in low income neighborhoods. Prohibition does not work. Incarcerating non-violent drug offenders costs the taxpayers dearly but does nothing to stop the flow of drugs into our communities.
His speech also provided great insight into his philosophy as a criminal defense attorney fighting for the rights of his clients.
If you watched HBO's hit series "The Wire" you know about Billy Murphy's cameo performance as State Senator R. Clayton "Clay" Davis' criminal defense attorney. As far as criminal defense attorneys go, he is about as "rock star" as it gets.
He also stars in a great video on "10 Rules for Dealing with the Police." The Constitution of the United States of America provides you with valuable rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. Few citizens understand how to assert these rights. Even if you are neither poor nor disenfranchised you should understand how to assert your constitutional rights.
The video gives an easy to understand explanation on how to assert your rights. The most important point made by the video is that even people who are completely innocent of any criminal wrongdoing are best served by understanding and asserting their rights against unreasonable police conduct.
You can order the full-length DVD at http://flexyourrights.org/10_Rules for $15.00.
The video provides a pretty objective lesson on how to assert your right to remain silent and your right to speak with an attorney before submitting to any questioning or interrogation. "I'm going to remain silent. I want to see a lawyer." You can assert these rights even if the officer has not read you Miranda warnings.
He also discusses ending any consensual encounter with police by asking, "Excuse me officer, I'm I being detained or am I free to leave?"
Billy Murphy also explains why you can refuse to consent to a search of your vehicle, clothing, or home by simply saying, "I don't consent to searches."
Find out what to do when the police knock on your door. Commonly called the "knock and talk" the police are there for one reason - to gain entry into your home to conduct a search. A search that may only be legal if you agree to invite them across the threshold. So never invite a police officer into your home. Instead, if you wish to talk to the officer then step outside to talk to the officer and shut the door behind you.
Watch Part III - 10 Rules for Dealing with the Police
Watch Part IV