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Friday, August 26, 2016

Prepare Against False Charges

Not actually Erin.
& is used with permission.
If you haven't heard the story of Paul Lathrop and you carry a firearm in your car, you owe it yourself to hear his story. It will make you consider what preparations you have against someone who files a false report with the police.

A brief summary for those folks who don't want to go to the link and listen:
  1. Paul is a truck driver and is accompanying a student on a trip. 
  2. During a stop to get gas, another truck driver gets belligerent with them and attempts entry into their truck. 
  3. Paul tells the driver that he has a gun. 
  4. Belligerent driver goes back to his truck. 
  5. Paul and his student leave, and several miles down the road they are stopped by the police. 
  6. Paul is arrested for "making terroristic threats" and "possession of a weapon during the commission of a felony" because the belligerent drive claims that Paul left the truck, waved a handgun at him and asked "Do you want to die?"
  7. The police do not seem to care that the diver reported Paul's gun as a revolver when he in fact had a semiauto Glock. 
  8. Paul fights the charges for 6 months, spending several thousands of dollars in his defense. 
  9. Paul's lawyer acquires a copy of the gas station's surveillance tapes, which prove he never left his truck and therefore did not threaten the other driver. 
  10. The charges are dropped when the other driver refuses to appear in court (and perjure himself). 
Using Paul's experience as a model, what can we learn and therefore do differently?

Have Insurance
There are many fine insurance companies that will provide you with bail money and a retained lawyer if you are ever arrested following the use (or in this case, non-use) of your firearm. I am a member of Second Call Defense, but other options such as Legal Shield, CCW Safe and the Armed Citizen's Legal Defense Network also exist. Find the plan that's right for you, pay your premiums on time, and keep their card in your wallet next to your driver's license and carry permit.

Record Interactions If Possible
While I am not saying that a dashboard camera would have kept Paul safe from arrest and prosecution, it might have helped support his side of the story with the arresting officers and at worst wouldn't have hurt him.

There are many options available to people seeking to employ dash cams. Barron B of the GunBlog VarietyCast recommends the Cobra CDR 80, but for those seeking other options there is an entire subreddit dedicated to issue. Alterately, you can turn your smartphone into a dash camera, but the apps likely will not run at the same time as a map program or music, which may be a dealbreaker for people (it is for me).

If you do go this route, be aware of the consent laws of whatever state you're in regarding video or voice recording. If you are in a one-party state, then there is no problem; you clearly have consented to record yourself. However, if you are in a two-party consent state, this may cause problems; however, be advised that consent does not mean "permission." If you simply state that "You're being recorded" and the person doesn't leave, they have effectively consented to you recording them from your car (but keep in mind that I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice, etc).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_district_court#/media/File:US_Court_of_Appeals_and_District_Court_map.svg
Whether or not you may record the police as they go about their business in public depends on which judicial district you're in. The 1st, 7th, 9th and 11th Circuits have ruled that recording the police is protected under the First Amendment, but the 3rd and 4th Circuits disagree. As always, be careful.

For a more detailed explanation of what is and is not legal by state, please download and read "Can We Tape? : A journalist’s guide to taping phone calls and in-person conversations in the 50 states and D.C."

Have Other Self-Defense Options
There has been some armchair quarterbacking regarding whether or not Paul could have used a self-defense spray, like Mace or Sabre, on the belligerent driver. I refuse to engage in such speculation. I will say, however, that having a non-lethal option is always a good idea, because it gives you flexibility of response instead of a choice of "lethal or nothing".

Stay Calm, De-escalate, Leave
The situation was not helped by Paul's student displaying his middle finger to the driver. Remember, if you carry a weapon, it is your responsibility to be the bigger person: do not give in to your temper, but instead leave immediately (which is what Paul did). Things would have been far worse for him had he actually left the truck.

Call 911
If you take nothing else away from Paul's story, make it this: be the first person to call the police. In a situation where you have to draw your gun, or even threaten to draw your gun, you need to make sure that your story is the first story that the police hear, because "He who calls first is believed first." Call the authorities, file a report with them, and give your side of the story,

The Fine Print


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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