SAFETY FIRST, SAFETY SECOND AND SAFETY THIRD - A SURVIVAL GUIDE

So - there you are. You've done the dishes and put the kettle on for a cuppa. You're thinking about dinner and whether you should defrost something from the freezer and then you hear a knock on the door. 'Not expecting anybody', you think as you open the door with a welcoming smile on your face to see four or five strangers on your doorstep. 'Good afternoon', the big guy in front says, as the other people push past you into your home, 'I am Garda Sergeant Outraged and I am here with a warrant to search this house, any electronic devices (phones) and any vehicles or people I find on the premises. I have been given reason to believe that, contrary to Section 5 and Section 27, as amended by Section 6 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1984, of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 you may have, unlawfully in your possession a controlled drug, to wit, Cannabis. Here is the warrant, you may read it but not touch it'. The blood leaves your head and your heartbeat accelerates as your adrenal glands ramp up production of the 'fight-or-flight' hormone, adrenaline. The pupils in your eyes dilate, you feel nauseous and you start trembling. You can neither fight nor flee as you hear strangers in your home opening cupboards and drawers. At this point you are at your most vulnerable. What should you do?

The first thing you should do is REMAIN CALM. Ignore the noise and bluster, close your eyes and ears and take a slow deep breath or two - in through the nose, out through the mouth. Try to calm yourself. Sit down, if you can, somewhere comfortable. REMEMBER - even if the guards haven't informed you of any legal 'rights' you may have, they represent a LEGALLY HOSTILE ENTITY. You've all seen the telly, "Anything you may say will be taken down and used in evidence AGAINST you" and the key word there is 'AGAINST'. They will NEVER introduce any evidence to help you, that is the job of the solicitor you will engage. They will say that they're, 'Not out to hang you' or, 'This isn't so bad you know', these are meaningless statements designed to make them appear 'fair' or 'harmless' - they are not, so put NO FAITH in what they say at all. They are interested in what YOU have to say - what they say is designed to put you off your guard and to open you up.

REMAIN CALM. BE POLITE. Younger guards will be hyped-up and hair-trigger. Their working culture is almost unique in that it seamlessly carries over into their non-work life. They regard you as a filthy degenerate who represents an existential threat to all that they hold dear. They don't understand 'drugs'. To a certain extent they understand other 'crimes' but they do not understand 'drugs' and what they don't understand they FEAR. Fit young men from a predominantly male bonding culture will respond to internalised fear with aggression and hostility and if it spills over, into violence.

REMAIN CALM. BE POLITE. COMMUNICATE. This is an extremely important stage of the proceedings, communication. Unless you have had legal training you are in a MINEFIELD of possibly self-incriminating statements. Confirm your name and address when asked - they have it anyway. They will ask you if you have any cannabis on the premises. If you have a small amount very well hidden and you fancy your chances then say no. If you don't think like a criminal and have it laying around say yes and tell them where to find it - they will find it anyway and they won't stop searching even after you've told them where it is. They will ask you where you obtained the cannabis and how much you paid for it. Tell them in a clear voice, 'I can make no statement absent legal advice'. They will laugh and joke about this or tell you that you MUST answer their questions. They will try to appear friendly and sympathetic - this is to get you opened up and TALKING. ANY communication with them is fraught with legal danger. If they persist in questioning you, say, 'no comment'. If a different officer questions you use the statement above about legal advice before reverting to 'no comment'.

People very rarely inform on others for cannabis use. A person might act out of malicious intent and inform on you for reasons of their own but the vast majority of information needed to identify cannabis users comes from other cannabis users MOBILE PHONES. We form a network! Look at the contacts list in your phone, especially 'most called' or 'most texted', and ask yourself how many of those contacts use cannabis? There is a very good chance that the gardaí are at your door because your name was on the phone of somebody they've interacted with before. They will tell you that you have been informed on and that they cannot get a search warrant without having had a complaint. This is disinformation and is designed to sow fear and distrust amongst what the gardaí regard as criminal groupings. They may drop subtle hints about who it might have been, who's responsible for your predicament - PAY NO HEED.

A recent technological development that is helping the gardaí enormously is the issuing of post codes. A name and number will be taken from your phone then cross-referred to the post code databanks. Professional criminals, of course, have methods of defeating this activity but the vast majority of us non-criminals do not. Practically nobody uses a PIN or password to unlock their phone because most people don't lock their phone. If you are in the happy position of having a PIN or password protected phone DO NOT give the gardaí the PIN or password. Tell them you will turn over your locked phone to your solicitor. The gardaí are after two things here: they want your contacts list and they don't want you wiping the phones memory. A friend has a phone that is locked by fingerprint - this is excellent.

At the station you will be questioned again. You should be offered a solicitor. They may tell you that there isn't one available until morning but that if you make a statement you will be released. DO NOT GIVE IN. Go into your cell and get your head down - try to sleep. You will usually find that the uniformed gardaí are sympathetic to your plight. Your heart and soul will drink in this sympathy after the horrendous time you've had and truly, these uniformed officers are sympathetic - after all, they've never had the face kicked off them by somebody who's overdosed on cannabis have they? So be soothed by the sympathy but say NOTHING about your particular situation. The law is a very strange animal that has very little to do with justice. Metaphorically, pack up all your legal woes and hand them over to your solicitor.

I'm going to finish this post on a personal note. A lot of people don't bother having a landline these days because they have a mobile phone. If this is the case in your household you should consider having a second phone with a different network provider. If, for whatever reason, say, 3 goes down and you have an emergency you have your second phone on Vodaphone and the chances are it will be active. If you have this second phone, and if it has a sound record function and if you can turn it on and hoy it under the sofa you will be able to challenge the version of events that the gardaí will wish to present because, believe me, when you read the statement they will furnish your solicitor it'll read like a poor piece of badly written fiction and you will not be able to challenge their version of events because they will have sworn, on pain of perjury, that there version of events is correct. This is unchallengeable UNLESS you have some genuinely independent corroborating evidence. If your house has a cctv security system turn it on.

I'm going to leave this here. If you've read this far thank you very much. Please use the comments below to say anything you like about what you've read. Share your knowledge and experiences with others. Together we are strong. Peace, Out.

 

Posted on November 8, 2015 .