What are the magic words, you ask? The first phrase words can magically let you go free. Simply ask, “OFFICER, AM I FREE TO LEAVE?”
If they reply that you are free to leave, then do just that. You may have to wait for the officer to finish the citation, but yes, you are free to go. If the police officer indicates that you are not free to leave, then you must use the other magic phrases,
- “I DO NOT CONSENT TO ANY SEARCHES,”
- “I INVOKE TO REMAIN SILENT,”
- “I INVOKE MY RIGHT TO AN ATTORNEY.”
You must use all of the magic words and use them in this order. In the movie, Horrible Bosses, one of the main characters uses this phrase with true legal aplomb. Please see video HERE.
During any police encounter, they no doubt will never apprise you of your rights or help you understand them. In fact, they are trained to harass, scare, and trick you into giving up your rights. You have to be strong in the face of adversity. Police officers are even permitted to lie! Thus, do not believe anything they say. Instead, keep repeating the magic phrases, be polite, and keep your mouth shut!
How Do the Magic Words Work?
The first question, “Am I free to go,” clarifies if you are being detained or not. If you are being detained, the police cannot ask you questions without reading you your rights (just like on the TV shows). If they do not read you your statutory and constitutional rights, your attorney can use this against them in court. Once they have read you your rights, invoke your right to remain silent and to have an attorney present.
The second statement, “I do not consent to any searches,” is equally critical. The cops are not allowed to just search you for any reason. They have to meet certain requirements like having probable cause or a warrant. Even if they have a warrant, they can only search within certain limits. However, if one gives voluntary consent, you are literally giving them permission to search anywhere and everywhere. Never consent to any searches! It will never help you or get the cops to go easy on you. If they need consent then they have nothing else against you so don’t give it to them. If the police think they do not need consent, they will go ahead and search after you say the magic words. Stand out of the way and be quiet while they search. Maybe they find something maybe they don’t.
“I want to remain silent,” is one of the trickier magic phrases. The United States Supreme Court has declared that in order to properly invoke your right to remain silent, you must first speak up and say you want to remain silent. After you say it, the police are still allowed to continue to question and harass you. You must not speak up and if you do, you have to say “I want to remain silent,” all over again. I know this sounds bizarre, but it is how the law is structured.
Do not worry or fret. The last magic phrase will be the safeguard to help. When you tell the police, “I want a lawyer,” they are not allowed to talk to you again until you have a lawyer with you. If they do talk to you and you accidentally talk back, your lawyer will be able to have whatever is said deemed inadmissible in later proceedings. Requesting for an attorney is the ultimate legal block against the police.