Norml.org provides an extremely useful guide to your rights in the case of a police encounter. Read through them, memorize them, love them!
The following information is intended as a brief summation of your constitutional rights and is meant to offer helpful hints at how to effectively assert and protect those rights within the context of a police encounter. Of course, this information is no substitute for consultation with an experienced attorney.
1. Don’t Leave Contraband in Plain View
Although law enforcement officers must obtain a warrant before they can conduct a privacy-invading search, any illicit material that can be plainly seen by any person from a non-intrusive vantage point is subject to confiscation. An arrest and a valid warrant to search the rest of the area is likely to ensue. A “roach” in the ashtray, a pipe or baggie on the coffee table, or a joint being smoked in public are common mistakes which all too-frequently lead to arrests.
2. Never Consent
Many individuals arrested on marijuana charges could have avoided that arrest by exercising their Fourth Amendment rights. If a law enforcement officer asks for your permission to search, it is usually because: (1) there is not enough evidence to obtain a search warrant; or (2) the officer does not feel like going through the hassle of obtaining a warrant. Law enforcement officers are trained to intimidate people into consenting to searches. If you do consent, you waive your constitutional protection and the officers may search and seize items without further authorization. If officers find contraband, they will arrest you.
Read the full story at Norml.org.