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Thread: HELP ME!! Almost arrested in Wal-Mart by Suffolk police tonight!

  1. #1
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    This is absolutely ridiculous. I was detained for ONE HOUR tonight by 4 Suffolk police officers, I will give the entire story as accurately as I can:

    around 2 AM on 4/8/07 I went into the Suffolk Wal-mart on College Dr. to buy my mom a birthday present (her birthday is today, the 8th and i just got in from Richmond and I'm a huge procrastinator).

    After about 13 minutes of browsing (2:13 AM) I was approached by Officer Williams (black male, about 5'8"), who was the first LEO who I came in contact with.

    He asked me if I knew why he was stopping me. I said something along the lines of "because of my sidearm?"

    He said yes, then asked why. I said because I can. He then requested that I show him my ID. I asked "what if I don't have any ID?". He then said that I was "resisting". I said "Are you detaining me officer or am I free to go?" He then said that he was detaining me and he made me put my hands against a stack of basketball hoops. He then disarmed me. (if i was resisting arrest, I wouldn't have let him disarm me). It took him about 30 seconds because my fobus holster has amazing retention.

    I made it a POINT to be as polite and non-threatening as possible. I had my hands in front of me at ALL times, even when I was disarmed.

    I then stated that carrying a handgun in the open in the state of Virginia is legal. He then called in backup. A few minutes later, Officer Salmon (white male, about 5'9") came. They were discussing what to charge me with (I had relenquished my ID by this time and they ran it, finding nothing. I am a GOOD citizen and was LAWFULLY carrying). Next, Officer Burton (black male, about 6'0") came. He was told to detain me and make sure I didn't leave or try anything.

    The supervisor, Sgt. Earls (black woman, about 5'7") then came, but she had no direct contact with me. The Code of Virginia appeared somehow (I believe the supervisor brought it in with her, but I'm not sure) and for the next 40 minutes or so, they attempted to find something to book me on.

    They told me that since I was 19, I was a minor, and that you have to be 21 to purchase and carry a handgun in the state of Virginia. I told them that I legally bought my handgun in a bona fide private sale, but they did not believe that you could be 18 and purchase/carry one. This was the reason why they were detaining me (I recall them saying that they were aware that open carry was legal- BUT one of the officers said something along the lines of "If somebody feels threatened when they see your gun, you will be charged with BRANDISHING").

    At around 2:50 AM, Officer Williams asked me information (where I worked, where I went to school, my numbers, etc). I felt that if I used my right to remain silent, that he would detain me further (he thought i was just trying to be a smartass and scare people when i took voice memos on my cell phone to record information so i could type it on here).

    IMPORTANT:
    They then said that there was a "loophole" in the Code of Virginia that doesn't state whether it is legal or not to carry between 18 and 20. Officer Salmon said that they WOULD look into this and contact a state representative to get the "loophole" fixed. I did not argue with them because I would be speaking to deaf ears.


    At around 2:58 AM, Williams said that he would escort me to my car. I was not allowed to continue to shop, and he made an "example" of me to the two night managers.

    When I brought up the fact that Walmart ALWAYS recognizes the state gun laws and asked for the managers names, they would NOT give them to me. One was a black man and one was a black woman, and I think the man's name was Marty or something.

    Williams then escorted me out like I was a prisoner (walked behind me, even when I slowed down some). He walked me to my car, handed me my pistol with the slide back, my magazine, and my snap cap (which Officer Salmon dropped on the dusty ground, then sarcastically apologized for when I complained that he was mishandling my property). I then left and here I am typing this.



    I felt EXTREMELY violated and I wish I had the number for Mike or someone authoritative on hand so I could have just called them there at the scene and had them talk some sense into the "uninformed" (I'm calling them uninformed because if I used an insult, I would be no better than them) LEO's.


    Here is all the information I got:

    Names:

    Officer Williams
    Officer Salmon
    Officer Burton
    Sgt Earls

    Numbers, etc:

    Suffolk Police Department: 757-923-2350

    SPD Central Records: 757-923-2175

    College Drive Wal-Mart:
    6259 College Drive Suffolk, VA 23435 (757) 483-8860



    What can myself, and the Open Carry Community do about this? I really don't know what to do and your support would be much appreciated. This could have happened to any of us, and it happened to me. We have to keep our freedom, and this kind of police idiocy can NOT be tolerated.

  2. #2
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    Find out what it takes to file a complaint and do it.

    You have an excellent graspof all the details that transpiredin the event so your complaint can be well supported and effective.

    Except for your single uncooperative (and ill-chosen)comment to Ofc.Williams, "what if I don't have any ID?",I think you operated very reasonably, based on your account.

    I think the key will be what it is exactly that you complain about. The officers clearly made a few errors in what they said, but probably not a whole lotin what they did (except for dropping your snap cap).

    BTW, the Wal-Mart store manager's name is on any paper receipt issued out of that Wal-Mart.Oryou can get it by just calling the store.

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    Tagged for updates and outcome.

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    Except for your single uncooperative (and ill-chosen)comment to Ofc.Williams, "what if I don't have any ID?",I think you operated very reasonably, based on your account.
    He is within his rights/VA law to not show ID.


    Wow! Aside from contacting VCDL you might want to look into civil litigation. They violated your rights something fierce. I guess this Dept. hasn't been paying attention. The Officer was trampling your rights the minute he asked for ID and then it got worse from there including unlawful detention.

    I sent a link to to this thread to VCDL. I am guessing others have too. They will be able to offer some guidance in this matter. You did a good job documenting the details. In addition to a FOIA request, start drafting a up a formal complaint.
    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." - Thomas Jefferson

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    Speak to a lawyer knowlegdable about Virginia gun laws. The practical reality, however, is that police in Virginia have very wide latitude in regard to the manner in which they discharge their "official duties". The Fairfax SWAT officer who accidently shot and killed Dr. Salvatore Culosi during a gambling investigation got a couple of days off without pay, and is fighting that. The off-duty Alexandria officer who shot and killed rear-seat passenger Aaron Brown, allegedly fleeing an unpaid $25 IHOP meal tab suffered no consequence at all, other than several months off WITH pay while the investigation took place.

    You weren't arrested, and you weren't injured. My guess is that they are going to be pretty much immune to any criminal or civil action, at either the state or federal level.

    Find out how to file a complaint with the local PD. Use Virginia's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to get all of the information relating to your incident. If nothing else, having to respond to that FOIA will wake them up a bit. Contact VCDL and let them know about this incident (and join if you haven't already). If no legal avenues are open, then the issue can only be addressed in the political arena. You may be able to make the Suffolk police, mayor and city council feel some heat.

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    This actually sounds worse than the incident in Manassas. :shock:

    I would suggest you contact their internal affairs department immediately and file a complaint!! The officers did not know the law.. (but this is a law that most are not familiar with) and your complaint will ensure that the entire department will know it is legal in the future. You were detained for something that was not a violation of law and then they started looking for SOMETHING to charge you with.

    Let me just say one thing...... Consider yourself lucky... you actually got your gun back!! Good thing the officer was not a FFL dealer (inside joke). While reading I feared that they would keep it until they could pin a charge on you.

    I am not sure why you were escorted out... did the managers tell them to take you out and did they ban you from returning?

    And theOfficer'scomment about your brandishing... BS!!! I would make sure you complaint about that too. The officer obviously does not know the code section. What if you were scared of the officer's gun that was holstered.... can you have him charged with brandishing too?

    When he asked if you knew why he was stopping you... you should have said... "Either I am suspected ofshoplifting oryou do not know it is legal to openly carry"

    Never answer a question with a question. If the officer requests your ID.. just give it to him. I would not tell him anything more than what is on your license. Anything outside your Identity is none of his business.

    People.... I mentioned a while back that YOU need to carry something to show it is legal. Many got all upset about "Why do I need to prove I'm not breaking the law?!" This is a prime example!! You are going to run into some officers that don't know jack about it and your going to be detained, disarmed, embarrassed, and shown the door.

    These officers did not know the law and had to take time to research it. This was a waste of mercutio's time. He could have shown the letter from the state police on OC and the code section about private purchase.

    mercutio.... With the exception of the "what if I don't have ID"....you handled yourself well. Good Job!

    I look forward to hearing what happens with your complaint.






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    VAopencarry wrote:
    Except for your single uncooperative (and ill-chosen)comment to Ofc.Williams, "what if I don't have any ID?",I think you operated very reasonably, based on your account.
    He is within his rights/VA law to not show ID.
    That's a given. I think both points are true, that he didn't have to show an ID and that it was a bad choice to respondwith the snappy (and uncooperative) response of "what if I don't have any ID?"

    The producing of an ID was pretty much inevitable, so Mercutio's question was purely rhetorical and helped type the engagement for Ofc. Williams, et al. Adversely so, I think, for Mercutio.

    I don't think that issue is fatalto a reasonable complaint, however. It's clear that SPD waswasting too much time in coming up with the correct answers. But they finally did indeed come up with them. A positive note is that they didn't have any problem with OC per se. Just the "minor" stuff. They plodde on that for a while and said some silly stuff but got it right in the end.

    I wonder what LEO 229's view of this stop would be?

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    HankT wrote:
    I wonder what LEO 229's view of this stop would be?
    I posted just prior to you.. :P

  9. #9
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    This need to be address by VCDL as strongly as the Mannassas case. It is also the second time that a member has be harassedat this walmart. It needs to be dealt with with a strong voice!

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    Regular Member VAopencarry's Avatar
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    I mentioned a while back that YOU need to carry something to show it is legal.
    I am not a cop but if I were, I don't think I would consider some stuff printed out on a piece paper by a citizen something I could put legal stock in. On another note, the Manassas PD REFUSED to look at said documents.

    Cop supervisor: Why didn't you detain him?
    Cop: Um.... he showed a piece of paper he printed off the internet that said it was legal.


    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." - Thomas Jefferson

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    VAopencarry wrote:
    I mentioned a while back that YOU need to carry something to show it is legal.
    I am not a cop but if I were, I don't think I would consider some stuff printed out on a piece paper by a citizen something I could put legal stock in. On another note, the Manassas PD REFUSED to look at said documents.

    Cop supervisor: Why didn't you detain him?
    Cop: Um.... he showed a piece of paper he printed off the internet that said it was legal.


    They do not have to believe it....and I would not expect them too.

    They can see it could exist and go directly to the code section or web site to prove it. Instead.. they had to flip thru the book.... page by page...

    I believe this would have helped out.The officers had nothing to go on.... so the hunt begins. :P

    As far as Manassas.... at leastit wastried. If they are willing to look at it...sweet! Otherwise... you will have to site and wait. I know I would reviewed it if you handed it to me. But then... I already know the law. I guess it really depends on the officer and how open he is to hear your side of things.


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    can someone tell me the exact part of the law that states you don't have to show ID?

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    adamwa wrote:
    can someone tell me the exact part of the law that states you don't have to show ID?
    Can you show me the exact part of the law that states you don't have to wear a red shirt?

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    mercutio545 wrote:
    This is absolutely ridiculous. I was detained for ONE HOUR tonight by 4 Suffolk police officers, I will give the entire story as accurately as I can:

    around 2 AM on 4/8/07 I went into the Suffolk Wal-mart on College Dr. to buy my mom a birthday present (her birthday is today, the 8th and i just got in from Richmond and I'm a huge procrastinator).

    After about 13 minutes of browsing (2:13 AM) I was approached by Officer Williams (black male, about 5'8"), who was the first LEO who I came in contact with.

    He asked me if I knew why he was stopping me. I said something along the lines of "because of my sidearm?"

    He said yes, then asked why. I said because I can. He then requested that I show him my ID. I asked "what if I don't have any ID?". He then said that I was "resisting". I said "Are you detaining me officer or am I free to go?" He then said that he was detaining me and he made me put my hands against a stack of basketball hoops. He then disarmed me. (if i was resisting arrest, I wouldn't have let him disarm me). It took him about 30 seconds because my fobus holster has amazing retention.

    I made it a POINT to be as polite and non-threatening as possible. I had my hands in front of me at ALL times, even when I was disarmed.

    I then stated that carrying a handgun in the open in the state of Virginia is legal. He then called in backup. A few minutes later, Officer Salmon (white male, about 5'9") came. They were discussing what to charge me with (I had relenquished my ID by this time and they ran it, finding nothing. I am a GOOD citizen and was LAWFULLY carrying). Next, Officer Burton (black male, about 6'0") came. He was told to detain me and make sure I didn't leave or try anything.

    The supervisor, Sgt. Earls (black woman, about 5'7") then came, but she had no direct contact with me. The Code of Virginia appeared somehow (I believe the supervisor brought it in with her, but I'm not sure) and for the next 40 minutes or so, they attempted to find something to book me on.

    They told me that since I was 19, I was a minor, and that you have to be 21 to purchase and carry a handgun in the state of Virginia. I told them that I legally bought my handgun in a bona fide private sale, but they did not believe that you could be 18 and purchase/carry one. This was the reason why they were detaining me (I recall them saying that they were aware that open carry was legal- BUT one of the officers said something along the lines of "If somebody feels threatened when they see your gun, you will be charged with BRANDISHING").

    At around 2:50 AM, Officer Williams asked me information (where I worked, where I went to school, my numbers, etc). I felt that if I used my right to remain silent, that he would detain me further (he thought i was just trying to be a smartass and scare people when i took voice memos on my cell phone to record information so i could type it on here).

    IMPORTANT:
    They then said that there was a "loophole" in the Code of Virginia that doesn't state whether it is legal or not to carry between 18 and 20. Officer Salmon said that they WOULD look into this and contact a state representative to get the "loophole" fixed. I did not argue with them because I would be speaking to deaf ears.


    At around 2:58 AM, Williams said that he would escort me to my car. I was not allowed to continue to shop, and he made an "example" of me to the two night managers.

    When I brought up the fact that Walmart ALWAYS recognizes the state gun laws and asked for the managers names, they would NOT give them to me. One was a black man and one was a black woman, and I think the man's name was Marty or something.

    Williams then escorted me out like I was a prisoner (walked behind me, even when I slowed down some). He walked me to my car, handed me my pistol with the slide back, my magazine, and my snap cap (which Officer Salmon dropped on the dusty ground, then sarcastically apologized for when I complained that he was mishandling my property). I then left and here I am typing this.



    I felt EXTREMELY violated and I wish I had the number for Mike or someone authoritative on hand so I could have just called them there at the scene and had them talk some sense into the "uninformed" (I'm calling them uninformed because if I used an insult, I would be no better than them) LEO's.


    Here is all the information I got:

    Names:

    Officer Williams
    Officer Salmon
    Officer Burton
    Sgt Earls

    Numbers, etc:

    Suffolk Police Department: 757-923-2350

    SPD Central Records: 757-923-2175

    College Drive Wal-Mart:
    6259 College Drive Suffolk, VA 23435 (757) 483-8860

    What can myself, and the Open Carry Community do about this? I really don't know what to do and your support would be much appreciated. This could have happened to any of us, and it happened to me. We have to keep our freedom, and this kind of police idiocy can NOT be tolerated.
    You need to make an official complaint to the Suffolk PD:

    1. Unlawful seizure.

    2. Unlawfully ejectment from a public place.

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    Here's some references to make your complaint quicker:

    § 18.2-308.7 - it's unlawful for anyone under 18 to posess a handgun or assualt firearm.
    § 18.2-309 - makes it illegal to furnish a handgun to a minor
    § 1-207 - "Child," "juvenile," "minor," "infant," or any combination thereof means a person less than 18 years of age.
    ---

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    This whole think stinks, sorry you had to go through it.Were they already in the store, or did they respond to a call from a Wal-Mart employee? If that employee called, they are obviously not aware of both the law and of Wal-Mart's policies as well. I'd get that FOIA and find out exactly where that call came from. If it was from a Wal-Mart employee, you have a huge beef with them. Either way, whether the police were already there or called, it sounded like a fishing expedition. "Hi officer, there's a man with a gun. I don't know if it's legal or not, but I'm not comfortable with it." Sound familiar??

    The fact that you weren't injured or arested does not mean this was a harmless incident, becauseit sounds to me like they had no reasonable or articulable reason to stop you and most certainly stomped all over your rights once they did.

    It will come down to your word over theirs.Remain professional, keep the high ground and never give in one iota. Right is right and wrong is wrong.

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    Mike wrote:
    adamwa wrote:
    can someone tell me the exact part of the law that states you don't have to show ID?
    Can you show me the exact part of the law that states you don't have to wear a red shirt?
    Mike,
    Exactly....



    adamwa,

    You only have to show your ID when your operating a motor vehicle on a highway or recklessly on private property. All other times is optional. However..... you can be detained for as long as necessary till your identify can be obtained depending on the situation.

    If your being charged with a Class 3 or 4 misdemeanor you may want to produce that ID so you can sign your summons and walk away. Not showing your ID would result in your being arrested and you do not get out of jail till you prove who you are.

    Simply put.... Why resist in showing your ID? Your not Clark Kent with a secret identity. People know who you are and you have not committed a crime so you have nothing to fear.

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    LEO 229 wrote:
    If your being charged with a Class 3 or 4 misdemeanor you may want to produce that ID so you can sign your summons and walk away. Not showing your ID would result in your being arrested and you do not get out of jail till you prove who you are.

    Simply put.... Why resist in showing your ID? Your not Clark Kent with a secret identity. People know who you are and you have not committed a crime so you have nothing to fear.
    Well, ID is not required by statute to sign a summons in lieu of arrest; and that general rule applies to ALL misdemeanors in VA, not just class 3 & 4. The general statutory rule is that officers will release on summons doe aLL MISDEMEANOR CHARGES.

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    BobCav wrote:
    This whole think stinks, sorry you had to go through it.Were they already in the store, or did they respond to a call from a Wal-Mart employee? If that employee called, they are obviously not aware of both the law and of Wal-Mart's policies as well. I'd get that FOIA and find out exactly where that call came from. If it was from a Wal-Mart employee, you have a huge beef with them. Either way, whether the police were already there or called, it sounded like a fishing expedition. "Hi officer, there's a man with a gun. I don't know if it's legal or not, but I'm not comfortable with it." Sound familiar??

    The fact that you weren't injured or arested does not mean this was a harmless incident, becauseit sounds to me like they had no reasonable or articulable reason to stop you and most certainly stomped all over your rights once they did.

    It will come down to your word over theirs.Remain professional, keep the high ground and never give in one iota. Right is right and wrong is wrong.
    Hey Bob,

    I hear what your saying... I read his story again and spotted that they knew about OC but believed he was too young to OC. So their reason to stop was based on the fact they felt he was under 21 and believed this was against the law.

    They now know it is allowed and advised it was a loophole. So nice of them to express that they would have to do something to have closed.

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    Mike wrote:
    LEO 229 wrote:
    If your being charged with a Class 3 or 4 misdemeanor you may want to produce that ID so you can sign your summons and walk away. Not showing your ID would result in your being arrested and you do not get out of jail till you prove who you are.

    Simply put.... Why resist in showing your ID? Your not Clark Kent with a secret identity. People know who you are and you have not committed a crime so you have nothing to fear.
    Well, ID is not required by statute to sign a summons in lieu of arrest; and that general rule applies to ALL misdemeanors in VA, not just class 3 & 4. The general statutory rule is that officers will release on summons doe aLL MISDEMEANOR CHARGES.

    You must still prove who you are. You could say your John Doe born on the 4th of July. You would sign the summons and I would never see you again.

    If you cannot prove who you are to my satisfaction... your going to jail. The magistrate is going to stamp your paperwork with "Must Prove Identity" so you do not get released until you do so.

    My reference to the Class 3 and 4 is because you must be released on a summons. Sonot providing your identity means you will NOT get to walk away asyou could have.




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    LEO 229 wrote:
    If your being charged with a Class 3 or 4 misdemeanor you may want to produce that ID so you can sign your summons and walk away. Not showing your ID would result in your being arrested and you do not get out of jail till you prove who you are.
    Well, no, there is no stautory requirement to have or show ID to sign a summons, and the law is very clear, the police in VA MUST, as a general rume, release on summons for ALL misdemeanors, not just class 3/4.

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    It would take me about 20 minutes to get to that walmart, if there is any interest in carrying there i'm in.

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    What kind of online record will be kept of Mercutio's incident? If any, what will it likely say and how long will stay in SPD records?

    Will it come up for an LEO in VA if, say, Mercutio is stopped for a broken tail light and he furnishes his DL?

    Anyone know?

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    One VERY important point that this incident brings to the front is in regard to the initial contact on being stopped. Any time an Officer starts of with "Do you know why I stopped you?" The answer should ALWAYS be "No".

    That question is specifically designed to determine two things. The first is did you knowingly violate some law that was the original reason you drew the officers attention. The second reason is more of a fishing expedition to see if you may be nervous about something else you are doing that might also be illegal, but that the Officer has not yet observed.

    By answering "No" to such a question you force the Officer to articulate the actual reason he felt he had cause to stop you. The "articulation" of the cause is an important element of a lawful stop, and it sets the context for all events that follow.

    This is a rule of conduct that all persons should use when dealing with a first contact with Law enforcement. Moreover, you need not ask why. You may ask why, but it is not necessary. If the Officer does not respond with a reason, he may not have had a good reason, and you should not provide him with one.

    This incident might have gone in a completely different direction had Mercutio not stated "because of my sidearm". That statement led the first Officer to believe that YOU thought there was a problem the Officer should be interested in related to your possession of the weapon, and it set the tone for what followed.

    That does not diminish the fact that the Officers overreacted and may have over stepped the law. But that determination depends on how they were brought to the scene, and what involvement the store managers may have had in the situation.

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    Mike wrote:
    LEO 229 wrote:
    If your being charged with a Class 3 or 4 misdemeanor you may want to produce that ID so you can sign your summons and walk away. Not showing your ID would result in your being arrested and you do not get out of jail till you prove who you are.
    Well, no, there is no stautory requirement to have or show ID to sign a summons, and the law is very clear, the police in VA MUST, as a general rume, release on summons for ALL misdemeanors, not just class 3/4.

    I am not saying you have to physically possess an ID card... Just that you need to prove who you are.

    Current Virginia law already provides police the flexibility to arrest persons suspected of committing misdemeanors if the police can articulate why they suspect the individual: (1) is intoxicated; (2) is not likely to show up for the hearing listed on the summons; (3) is refusing to discontinue the allegedly unlawful conduct; or (4) is likely to hurt himself or others.

    So you can see that there are times that you can be arrested no mater what the class is.

    Class 1 and 2 are CCRE reportable so that means you would be fingerprinted and photographed. Class 3 and 4 are summons only. So unless you met some of the criteria above.. A class 3 or 4 would result in a summons only either on the street.. or in front of the Magistrate.

    My point on the classes being... You could get a summons for class 1 or 2 but if you are arrested.... You get printed and photographed instead.


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