A lot of us have/had opinions on Jay-Z’s partnership with the NFL. Some of us cheered the idea, others despised the move, with some of those people calling him a sell out and others simply didn’t give a damn. Despite the polarizing move, what isn’t polarizing is Jay Z’s rap prowess. Many consider him the GOAT of hip hop, and for good reason. If you include skills, commercial hits and longevity, it’s hard to argue why Jay isn’t the greatest of all time behind a mic. However, what Hov isn’t great at is giving legal advice. I mean, the n*gga is so-so, because he knew basic legal concepts, but he ain’t pass the bar, and we can tell.
Let’s paint a quick picture. You leave work, excited about not having to code switch in front of your white co-workers, who, after Game of Thrones ended, don’t have much to contribute to your life outside of work. As you are driving home, bumping old school Jay-Z, more specifically the classic, “99 Problems” from The Black Album, suddenly you notice a cop car tailing you for a short distance. Then you see one of the scariest sights imaginable, blue-flashing lights in your rear-view mirror. What do you do?
Step 1: RELAX
You have done NOTHING wrong. You are simply being pulled over based on a reasonable suspicion (NOT probable cause) that you MAY HAVE violated a law. What is the difference between the reasonable suspicion and probable cause? I’m glad you asked. When an officer gains reasonable suspicion, this simply means that they are allowed to TEMPORARILY stop and detain you in order to investigate further if the officer thinks you MAY HAVE committed a crime. This essentially indicates the start of an investigation. Probable cause, which is a “level up” from reasonable suspicion, means that an officer has ENOUGH evidence to believe you have PROBABLY (not definitely) committed a crime, thus justifying the arrest. You will have your day in court to prove otherwise. Probable cause differs from reasonable suspicion in that, in order to meet the probable cause standard, an officer must have enough evidence to suggest that the motorist has MOST LIKELY committed a crime. Reasonable suspicion, on the other hand, only gives the officer some indication (which is subjective) that you MAY HAVE committed a crime.
Reasonable suspicion can range from not using your turning signal, slow or erratic driving, straddling the traffic line, frequent braking, etc. You don’t know, so don’t assume. Stay calm and don’t start looking to the heavens for forgiveness. When engaging with the officer, be polite and respectful (You don’t have to make small talk. I’m not saying go full Uncle Ruckus but don’t go full Tupac either. Like Thanos, find that balance. Well, maybe not Thanos, but you get the picture.). Make sure you ask the important questions, which are: “What is the cause of me being pulled over? (which he/she MUST articulate); and “May I leave?” (ask this often) You may also use your iPhone or whatever inferior smartphone you may have at your disposal and record the entire encounter (video and audio are ok). YES, IT IS LEGAL TO RECORD THE POLICE. Also, a police officer is an employee of the government. They are here to “Protect and Serve,” not “Harass and Bother.” If an officer seems to be acting outside the scope of “Protect and Serve,” you can request and record the officer’s information.
Side Note: A simple police inquiry is NOT a lawful request/order. Look out for buzz words like “may” or “can.” You can say NO, EVEN if you don’t have anything to hide.
Step 2: KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
This is probably the most important step/reminder I can give you. This step has been mentioned but I really want to drive the point home. Besides having the right to record your encounter and being able to refuse to answer questions (especially questions of an incriminating nature), you, most importantly, DO NOT HAVE TO CONSENT TO A SEARCH WHEN THE OFFICER STOPS YOU IN A “REASONABLE SUSPICION” SCENARIO. I know, I know. A police officer sounds convincing when they hit you with the “If you don’t have anything to hide, I should be able to search your vehicle” bullshit. Even if you don’t have a damn thing to hide, DO NOT CONSENT TO A SEARCH. Refusing a search or refusing to answer incriminating questions is NOT an admission of guilt.
Side Note: While bumping moderately (because let’s be honest, we all turn that music down when we’re pulled over, or when we are parallel parking) bumping Jay-Z’s “99 Problems,” make sure to keep OUT OF THE OFFICER’S PLAIN SIGHT any items that may draw attention. This derives from the “Plain View Doctrine,” which prohibits law enforcement officers from making warrant-less searches of vehicles. The prohibition covers any items inside a glove compartment, the trunk, or even concealed under a seat. Without the driver’s consent to search the vehicle, an officer MUST have PROBABLE CAUSE to look further inside your personal vehicle. Thus, if the officer has stopped you under a reasonable suspicion scenario, the officer cannot search your car without a probable cause. Hence, you should ALWAYS deny a request from an officer to search your vehicle in a reasonable suspicion scenario.
Step 3: DON’T ALWAYS LISTEN TO JAY-Z
One of the gods of Hip-Hop, Jay-Z aka Hov, dropped the track “99 Problems” from the 2004 classic “The Black Album.” On the classic track, second verse, Jay-Z rapped the famous line, “Do you mind if I look around the car a little bit? / Well, my glove compartment is locked, so is the trunk in the back, / And I know my rights so you go’n need a warrant for that.” Well, Jay-Z may be wrong, and here is why: The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled unequivocally that the warrantless search of a car DOES NOT violate the Constitution when the officer has probable cause that a crime has been committed, stating that the mobility of a vehicle makes it impracticable to get a search warrant. Basically, this means that since cars are mobile, it is deemed reasonable, under the Fourth Amendment, for the police to search the entire vehicle whenever they have established PROBABLE CAUSE (remember, NOT REASONABLE SUSPICION) to believe that the car contains evidence of a crime. Essentially, your expectation of privacy is lowered when you are in a moving vehicle. A police officer, legally, doesn’t have to arrest you nor impound your vehicle. They just need probable cause to believe that the car contains evidence of a crime. So, in any vehicle stop, the officers may search the entire car, without consent, if they develop PROBABLE CAUSE (NOT reasonable suspicion) to believe that the car contains the stuff Jay-Z used to sell and sometimes still raps about.
Side Note: Now, what is true is that if the Officer doesn’t develop articulable probable cause to search the trunk (Which means they forcibly searched the trunk because WE DO NOT GIVE CONSENT), any evidence obtained while illegally searching your trunk or glove compartment will be suppressed and thrown out in court.
Step 4: CONSULT YOUR OWN MF ATTORNEY
The information available on this write-up are for informational purposes ONLY and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Again, PLEASE consult your own attorney for legal advice because laws may vary from state to state.
Side Note: Bumping The Black Album, however, seems fairly universal.