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When do you have to cooperate with the police and talk to them?

Never, no matter what Justin Peters thinks. Justin Peters in Slate, January 3, 2013:

And, from the emails I’ve received, a lot of people have no interest in talking to the law in these situations. Which, to be sure, is their right. You’re under no obligation to talk with a police officer in non-investigatory situations [NOTE: TRUE BUT MISLEADING BY IMPLICATION], and you shouldn’t be intimidated into feeling otherwise. (And to be clear, I’m not talking about those times when a cop stops you for speeding, or jaywalking, or stealing an old woman’s purse. In scenarios like these, when there’s reasonable suspicion that you’ve done something wrong, you’re obliged to cooperate [FALSE], and refusal to comply may lead to your arrest [AS MAY COOPERATION].)



Embarrassingly, dangerously wrong.

In Maryland, you do in many circumstances have a duty to refrain from telling certain types of lies to some police officers. There are federal laws which criminalize lying to a federal officer. You have – let’s get this straight, children – a right under the 5th Amendment not to incriminate yourself; similar statutes, ordinances and state/local constitutional provisions protect the same right. There is no U.S. crime called “willful failure to chat with police officer.” If you think that that crime exists in America, prove me wrong; show me the cite to the statute.  Can you find one, Mr. Peters?  The Bill of Rights (for visitors outside the U.S., the first ten Amendments to the U.S. Constitution enacted and often considered as a set) is many things, but the first thing that it is, is law.

By policy, this blog usually doesn’t call for the firing of anyone but Justin Peters – a non-attorney whose qualifications appear to be minimal – is a close case, particularly if he refuses to correct or retract his misrepresentation of black-letter U.S. constitutional law. To use the words of attorney Scott Greenfield, Esquire, (to whom a hat tip for the catch and for picking up on Peters earlier), he is making people stupider.

Update: Popehat.

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