Author Topic: Knowing the Laws  (Read 6126 times)

Offline MThomasfreerun

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Knowing the Laws
« on: July 31, 2010, 09:49:49 AM »
As a licensed attorney in the State of Texas, as well as an avid freerunner, I find I'm called on a lot when my fellow runners and I cross paths with law enforcement. 

Now, despite the fact that many cases the law would not require us to stop what we are doing, I usually follow the parkour ideals of peaceful practice and just move on. But I believe sometimes it's perfectly acceptable to stand up for what's right...and what is and isn't within the law.

Case in point: Yesterday we were jamming in downtown Dallas. A police officer approached rudely and started yelling at us to move. As per the standard, we started gathering our things and moving away, but with a large group not everyone immediately heard. The police officer took this as defiance, continued yelling and told us to "stay out of downtown." Curious as to why the police officer believed he could exclude us from the physical premises of ALL of downtown, I asked what law required it. He started talking smack, at which point I pulled out my State Bar License and identified myself as a lawyer. Somewhat hesitant but otherwise unimpressed, the officer started spouting off a load of crap about being in a "prestigious location" and "this is a place of business" (which it isn't).

The culmination of the situation occurred when the officer, in attempting to assert his dominance, asked one of the younger attendees (over 18) for an ID. The guy answered honestly, "I don't have one on me - I don't even have a driver's license." The police officer INCORRECTLY stated that it's illegal to fail to carry a physical ID, and that he could be arrested.

THIS IS NOT TRUE IN TEXAS.

Realizing that we were skeptical of this "law" and realizing I wasn't intimidated, the officer backed off his arrest threat, but continued his rant. At this point the group had packed up and were moving on, but the police officer called me back ("hey, mr. wanna be lawyer - tell your friend about damaging property!")  I returned, was threatened with being reported to the Texas Bar (idle threat - I hadn't done anything to violate the code of ethics). I said one last time that we would be moving on, and unless he was going to cite us, we'd like to get going.  He let us on our way.

All of this is to say - I HIGHLY recommend that every person who chooses to freerun in public places spend some time learning the laws of your jurisdiction. Otherwise, the police WILL use scare tactics, including mischaracterization or flat out lying about the law, to intimidate you into doing what they want - such as leaving a training location, or being cited for whatever criminal or municipal violation they choose to slap you with. Sure, some of these might be legit, some may not. Don't assume.

Now I'm sure this will start a debate along the lines of "always do what police officers say, no matter what. We don't want to get a reputation of causing strife with law enforcement."  And I tend to agree with this statement.  BUT, I do NOT believe that we should be threatened and pushed into seclusion.   At the very least, you should know when your rights are being infringed. The cops aren't always right, and they aren't always honest.
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Re: Knowing the Laws
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2010, 11:38:04 AM »
This is why I really don't like cops.

WoodlandGhillie

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Re: Knowing the Laws
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2010, 12:13:36 PM »
I think the reverse is true; have respect and don't bitch to them about the laws they should be enforcing.

Offline Casey Boatwright

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Re: Knowing the Laws
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2010, 12:37:37 PM »
I agree compeletely with you thomas,   im going into law enforcement myself, and some of my favorite classes are criminal law, and i myself have experienced several bouts of staff and officers having problems about training on certain locations.    And until now I've haven't really thought to look up more specific laws for what we do,   :) thanks a lot!
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Offline Dan Elric

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Re: Knowing the Laws
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2010, 12:49:12 PM »
Yeah umm... Some officers are just not nice.  The fact he kept trying to talk smack after you pulled out your BAR Exam License only proves how ignorant he was.  I would of asked him for his badge number and reported him.  I pay taxes, and I'm not going to approve of paying for this dudes paycheck for being rude and ignorant of the job he is supposed to be doing.

Offline MThomasfreerun

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Re: Knowing the Laws
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2010, 01:21:28 PM »
I think the reverse is true; have respect and don't bitch to them about the laws they should be enforcing.

I always start with respect. But if the officer chooses not to return due respect, he/she will lose mine quickly. A police officer is a civil servant - key word SERVANT. Their job is to serve the community and enforce the laws - not whatever they feel like enforcing.

But remember - in standing up for your rights you very well could get arrested in the process and have to argue to a judge. Choose your battles...
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Offline Happy Fries

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Re: Knowing the Laws
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2010, 01:35:53 PM »
How does one go about finding out the laws in one's area? What resources can we use to find what the laws are? How do we know if a source is legit or not?
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Offline MThomasfreerun

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Re: Knowing the Laws
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2010, 02:27:54 PM »
How does one go about finding out the laws in one's area? What resources can we use to find what the laws are? How do we know if a source is legit or not?

For the State Penal Code, I would start with a google search for "_____ penal code"

Legitimate online sources will not require you to pay, will not be covered with ads and other crap, and will probably have a State domain name (such as http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/)

For cities and other municipal codes, search for the city's website and there should be a link to the municipal code. From there it's just about searching out what you want, such as "trespassing" or "criminal mischief" or "public parks."
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Offline hfksla

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Re: Knowing the Laws
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2010, 02:37:25 PM »
f#ck DAH PO-LICE
but srsly, i'm happy i live in an empty town where only 2 cop cars go near us a year lol
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Offline Dom Rocco

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Re: Knowing the Laws
« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2010, 03:04:36 PM »
I totally understand what you're saying and agree with you in principle, that when we're right, and we're not some place we shouldn't be, we should be left alone, but let's be realistic, this is going to end up as an argument with a cop 99 out of 100 times and that's not the best way to deal with these situations

This didn't end any differently than if you had just held back all of the legal info... the end result was that you left and if you had decided to stand your ground further, it would have just gone downhill from there... charges may not stick, but if you're arrested, your training session comes to an end and your day is ruined

Some of these cops are macho knuckleheads and if they approach you with a hard on like that then chances are you're getting someone that doesn't want their authority questioned and  they don't care about whatever reasonable arguments you're going to try to put out there
They're just not going to hear it, especially from a teenager or 20 something (like most of us are on here) and they're going to get you to move one way or another, whether that be with cuffs or without

Choose your battles

Offline hfksla

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Re: Knowing the Laws
« Reply #10 on: July 31, 2010, 03:12:11 PM »
just tell them you're name is John Doe and run away... and hope it's not devin, he's a security guard who will chase you! :P
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Offline Tex__

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Re: Knowing the Laws
« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2010, 03:21:45 PM »
andrew try to show a bit of maturity in general and keep the childish antics in socialize. that's what i do
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Offline Adam McC

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Re: Knowing the Laws
« Reply #12 on: July 31, 2010, 03:38:16 PM »
MThomas, thanks for this post! Very helpful. I'm reading up on trespassing and other related offenses as we speak.

Imaginary +1 to you, sir.

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Offline hfksla

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Re: Knowing the Laws
« Reply #13 on: July 31, 2010, 03:49:52 PM »
andrew try to show a bit of maturity in general and keep the childish antics in socialize. that's what i do
shame is being shown, i will do my best :)
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Offline Cody Goodman

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Re: Knowing the Laws
« Reply #14 on: August 01, 2010, 01:44:29 AM »
I totally understand what you're saying and agree with you in principle, that when we're right, and we're not some place we shouldn't be, we should be left alone, but let's be realistic, this is going to end up as an argument with a cop 99 out of 100 times and that's not the best way to deal with these situations

This didn't end any differently than if you had just held back all of the legal info... the end result was that you left and if you had decided to stand your ground further, it would have just gone downhill from there... charges may not stick, but if you're arrested, your training session comes to an end and your day is ruined

Some of these cops are macho knuckleheads and if they approach you with a hard on like that then chances are you're getting someone that doesn't want their authority questioned and  they don't care about whatever reasonable arguments you're going to try to put out there
They're just not going to hear it, especially from a teenager or 20 something (like most of us are on here) and they're going to get you to move one way or another, whether that be with cuffs or without

Choose your battles

Well it's not a day ruined IMO if you're wrongfully arrested. I mean, as long as I get monetarily compensated from the city for the officers incompetent actions.
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Offline J Kyle Smith

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Re: Knowing the Laws
« Reply #15 on: August 01, 2010, 07:45:51 AM »
I can agree with you completely, I was there. That cop was ridicules, he obviously had something in his ass. I even offered to clean up the tree branch I broke and he didn't let me, but I am sorry for getting you in trouble for my mistake.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2010, 07:48:31 AM by J Kyle Smith »

Offline MThomasfreerun

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Re: Knowing the Laws
« Reply #16 on: August 01, 2010, 09:01:03 AM »
I can agree with you completely, I was there. That cop was ridicules, he obviously had something in his ass. I even offered to clean up the tree branch I broke and he didn't let me, but I am sorry for getting you in trouble for my mistake.

Shit happens man. You were respectful, owned up to your mistake and offered to pay for it. That's exactly the right thing to do. No apologies, bud.
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Re: Knowing the Laws
« Reply #17 on: August 01, 2010, 12:16:13 PM »
I hadn't thought of this since I've only recently begun training in my city, but the officers I encounter are usually like this. I guess I'll study up. Thanks for the tip. :)

Offline J Kyle Smith

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Re: Knowing the Laws
« Reply #18 on: August 01, 2010, 10:28:24 PM »
Shit happens man. You were respectful, owned up to your mistake and offered to pay for it. That's exactly the right thing to do. No apologies, bud.
If it's cool with you then I'm good. Now if the city officials would just learn that shit happens...

Offline Will Ahlberg

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Re: Knowing the Laws
« Reply #19 on: August 02, 2010, 03:40:20 PM »
even if they are being unfair, you should still do as they ask in a respectful fashion because otherwise as time goes on... it will get worse and stuff will go down
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