Am I free to go, or am I being detained?

Every morning as I drive to the bus station in town I listen to 95.7 FM, which plays old rock and roll songs. It also features the Bob Rivers Show. This week they interviewed Johnny Walker, an Iraqi who worked with U.S.  troops in Iraq and currently lives in California. About a minute into the interview, he was asked what he liked about living in America. His answer was unwittingly ironic.

There is no checkpoint, he said.

For those in other southern states, this is not the case.

In Arizona, residents are battling internal checkpoints, which are set up as far as 100 miles away from the border.

According to the Fox News article:

Arivaca residents say they are regularly subjected to delays, searches, harassment and racial profiling at the checkpoints. Six residents monitored the checkpoint Wednesday on Arivaca Road, 25 miles north of the Mexico border.

Ironically, a construction worker who worked in Iraq is quoted in the story as saying that these checkpoints were very similar to the ones he had to go through in order to get to work everyday.

Some may say that these checkpoints are necessary to ensure safety or to capture illegal immigrants, criminals and drug dealers. Obviously, the residents in Arivaca don’t believe this and are looking to prove it.

But whether that is true or not, the question has to be asked if such measures are constitutional. If this seems like an odd question, consider that first. If asking if the government has the authority to do something sounds or seems quaint to you, perhaps that is an indication that the government as de facto authority to do whatever it wants. If that is the case, then why do we claim to be free?

In 1941, President Roosevelt thought it was proper to detain thousands of innocent Japanese Americans during World War 2 in order to ensure the safety and security of the American people. But regardless of what the Supreme Court says (it ruled it is constitutional) it was a blatant violation of at the very least the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Ninth and Tenth amendments to the Constitution.

Additionally, security and safety have been given the same reverence as pagan idols of ancient times. Not only is the purpose of government – in theory, at least – to protect freedom and liberty, but they do not require or demand anything of anyone else. Those who promote the god and goddess of safety and security, however, demand sacrifices on their altars, and those sacrifices are always freedom and liberty.

Internal border checkpoints interfere with people’s right to travel, detain them without probable cause or suspicion of committing a crime, and intimidate citizens by asking questions with the presumption that refusal to do so will result in arrest.

Gavin Seim, a fellow Washington resident, demonstrates in this video of an encounter with an internal checkpoint officer that simply asking “Am I being detained or “Am I free to go?” forces them to either let you go or detain you – and since they have no evidence whatsoever that you have committed a crime, they most likely choose the former. Sometimes, however, they will arrest just to prove a point, even if the charges are later dismissed.

Internal checkpoints rely on people’s ignorance of their own constitutional rights, their deference for law enforcement, and naive trust in the legal system.

As drivers have shown, you are not required to answer any questions officers ask at an internal security checkpoint. Actual border checkpoints, however, are a different story.

Sadly, the question, “Am I free to go?” is more than a legal tactic. It’s an actual question because the answer isn’t clear.

Checkpoints are not the symbol of a free society. You cannot say you are free to travel if you  feel pressured or intimidated to prove to a law enforcement officer you have not broken the law without probable cause. It reminds me of a scene from Hunt for Red October in which Marko Ramius and his executive officer are speaking about America, and the officer is excited at the ability to travel without papers from state to state – something which he could not do in the USSR.

In a libertarian anarchist society, private companies and individuals would own roads and would be able to determine the proper steps for securing their property. They would have the right to set up checkpoints and determine the rules for their roads, but then drivers would have the ability to not use those roads and instead choose to drive on roads owned by companies that do not have checkpoints. And as I’ve pointed out, private security never treats their customers this way. I work in a building with private security, and I am treated to “Good morning, sir,” every morning.

If you have to ask if you are free to go, something is already wrong with the situation.

This entry was posted in Police and Law Enforcement and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Am I free to go, or am I being detained?

  1. Pingback: Al-Qaeda holds open rally in Yemen | The Anarchist Notebook | Libertarian Anarchy

  2. Olaf Koenders says:

    Your last sentence is a poignant one. Citizens of common law countries have absolutely no requirement to carry ID or provide it if asked. They also have no requirement under common law to stop for police or answer any questions unless under full arrest. “Detain” is simply code for arrest without probable cause, because they haven’t formulated anything yet and is therefore unlawful without a clear declaration of arrest and reading of rights.

    In Australia, I never ask if I’m being detained, because the answer is likely to be in the affirmative. I always ask if I’m under arrest and, if not, I go on my merry way. Often this trips the officer into attempting to pull me up again. But since I carry a printout of court precedents regarding the above points of common law, once given to the officer he tends to leave me alone. Some won’t even accept it to read it, but that’s their problem, because “Let it be on record the offer was made.”

    I normally hand it to them when they ask for a licence. It’s the best way to get it in their hands. It’s my permission slip.

    It’s important to never do anything they say, since that means consent to Maritime and Admiralty (Statute) law, which is what they operate under.

    If they evade the question on arrest 3 times (maxim of law, must be asked 3 times), then “Your silence on my question of arrest is acquiescence (another maxim of law – something unrebutted becomes truth in law)”.

    Just be nice and cordial to them, always ask questions, because outright statements can require you prove them. Catch them lying on record (film them – perfectly legal) as many times as you can, such as:

    “Under common law do I have to stop for you or show you identification?”
    “Is that a lie?”
    “Is that another one?”
    “Please step out of the car.”
    “Do I have to consent to Statute law?”
    “You must obey.”
    “Is that a lie?”
    . . .
    This can conceivably go on forever. But if they make a false arrest, it becomes a serious case of kidnapping because a weapon is involved – theirs.

    If they ever try to force you to sign/do anything, take a step back, raise both hands and say “threat”. They know that anything you do under coercion such as signing something can be thrown out of court.

    Best to sign anything “V.C. [your signature]”. Vie Coactus means you were coerced into signing. Ellipsis […] ahead of your signature means that you were protesting the threat to sign, but were unable or forced not to use V.C. by the officer.


    • The Question says:

      That is fascinating. And it is definitely good advice. Asking questions rather than giving answers is an excellent way to interact with law enforcement, as well as knowing the law. I have never had to deal with this sort of situation outside of the U.S., so I am always curious as to the differences.


      • Olaf Koenders says:

        Thanks. The main difference is that Aussie cops aren’t as trigger happy, because we never really had the definitive right to bear arms and, the rest of that story gets murkier and more corrupt as decades passed.

        Our political situation is similar to Canada. No De Jure government (grabbermint), but a de facto one registered as a business at Washington’s SEC. Back in 1973 and later in 1986, certain Acts were passed by a corrupt Parliament creating a fictional Queen of Australia instead of the actual Queen Elizabeth II, defender of the faith etc. So now the cops and magistrates, through their Oath of Office, have sworn allegiance to a foreign power. I can’t say “treason” loud enough.

        Because the grabbermint is de facto, doing anything it orders “..would be treasonous of me to do so, your Honour”. That stuffs them up considerably. If they motion that it’s bullshit, I ask to see the magistrate’s Oath, bond, ID etc., which I have the right to do because jurisdiction can be challenged at any time, even on final determination. After the 3rd time they fail to provide identification (and they will fail, because they know they’re in trouble), they must step down – and they do. That now makes you the highest authority in the court (we own the courts, not them). All you need now is a final determination such as “For the record, the magistrate has left the battlefield and the case is hereby dismissed”. This is a maxim of law and vital, because they might come back at you later without a determination. Watch this vid to see how it works:

        You should watch all of Bill Turner’s vids on YouTube (know your rights etc.). Powerful stuff and is how the world works today, except Iceland. They figured out what was going on and sacked all their cronies long ago.

        I’ll leave you some common law precedents I use on my cheat sheet to the cops. Notably, precedents from Oz and the US are able to be used in both countries:


        “(Police officers) have no power whatever to arrest or detain a citizen for the purpose of questioning him or of facilitating their investigations. It matters not at all whether the questioning or the investigation is for the purpose of enabling them to ascertain whether he is the person guilty of a crime known to have been committed or is for the purpose of enabling them to discover whether a crime has or has not been committed. If the police do so act in purported exercise of such a power, their conduct is not only destructive of civil liberties but it is unlawful.” – Regina v Banner (1970) VR 240 at p 249 – the Full Bench of the Northern Territory Supreme Court

        “It is an ancient principle of the Common Law that a person not under arrest has no obligation to stop for police, or answer their questions. And there is no statute that removes that right. The conferring of such a power on a police officer would be a substantial detraction from the fundamental freedoms which have been guaranteed to the citizen by the Common Law for centuries.” – Justice Stephen Kaye – Melbourne Supreme Court ruling – 25 November 2011

        “There is no common law power vested in police giving them the unfettered right to stop or detain a person and seek identification details. Nor, is s.59 of the (Road Safety) Act a statutory source of such power.” – Magistrate Duncan Reynolds – Melbourne – July 2013

        “The common law does not require a citizen to identify oneself or to carry identification of any sort.” – Coaklan v Waugh 1957

        NOTE: None of the above precedents have been overturned on appeal or in the High Court.


        The Australian Government Law Reform Commission states the following:

        15.89 The common law privilege against self-incrimination entitles a person to refuse to answer any question, or produce any document, if the answer or the production would tend to incriminate that person.[123] Although broadly referred to as the privilege against self-incrimination, the concept encompasses three distinct privileges: a privilege against self-incrimination in criminal matters; a privilege against self-exposure to a civil or administrative penalty (including any monetary penalty which might be imposed by a court or an administrative authority, but excluding private civil proceedings for damages); and a privilege against self-exposure to the forfeiture of an existing right (which is less commonly invoked).

        There are many more references to an Australian citizen’s right to not incriminate himself or produce any document that may tend to incriminate him and this is where motorists should stand up for their rights in this regard. As proven by the precedents set by various judges, common law supersedes statutory law. Therefore, whether there are statutory laws compelling a person to submit to providing anything that may tend to incriminate him, the fact remains that a person has the legal right to not provide any material, whether verbal or tangible, if the production of that material would tend to incriminate that person. That material can be any or all of the following:

         Verbal statements
         Documents
         Data such as computer files
         Breath alcohol samples
         Blood alcohol samples
         DNA samples

        CONCLUSION No person should ever succumb to any demand to produce anything that may tend to incriminate him, no matter what police or other officials say or threaten. Every citizen has the common law right to refuse to incriminate himself in any way.

        Obviously any attempt to coerce or forcibly take any material from a person against his will that may tend to incriminate him should not only make that material completely inadmissible as evidence in any prosecution, but will possibly render the person who has coercively or forcibly obtained that material to prosecution for violating a person’s common law rights.

        Note that number plates are also a form of identification. Once I learned that under common law one has the fundamental right to use the roads one already pays for through a multitude of double-dip taxes (travelling), then it follows registration is not required either, unless one is acting in a commercial capacity – “driving”. Every law dictionary on the planet defines “driving” as a paid occupation. Besides, anything that can be licensed must be fundamentally lawful anyway. Registration transfers superior ownership to the body registered to. Regis = King. Search “Charlie Sprinkle” on YouTube.

        Back in the horse and cart days, children used to use them to carry their goods to market, sans licence. Just because the automobile is far safer and mechanically powered, it doesn’t abrogate our rights in any way. Check this site:

        Enjoy 😉


  3. Olaf Koenders says:

    I was also going to say, that when being pulled over (if you decide to stop), get out of the car with a friendly attitude, give the cop the cheat sheet (folded small) then ask:

    “Hey fella, what’s with all the emergency lights? Am I under arrest or something?”
    “Did you observe me breach the peace or commit a criminal act?”
    “OK, cheers buddy.”

    In the USSA it might differ dramatically because cops are likely to draw weapons if you alight without being ordered to. Be careful with “criminal act” on the road, because all traffic offences are considered criminal acts.

    Remember to never consent, agree to anything, or argue with them as it then can be considered an “adhesion contract”, which is what they require to do business with you. Argument creates dishonour. Questions are safest because they retain the power with you.

    The only statement you should make is: “I’m retaining and exercising my common law rights and do not consent to anything”.

    If they have a bad attitude, use this: “I won’t be wronged, I won’t be insulted, and I won’t be laid a hand on. I don’t do these things to other people and I require the same from them.”


  4. Pete says:

    Hi Olaf, Love the information in your posts. I’m wondering if its possible to contact you for some relevant Common Law pointers in Aus? I can be contacted at cheers mate, pete


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s