Your Rights and Obligations
What do you need to know about traffic stops in the Muscogee Creek Nation? My name’s Ted Hasse. I’m an attorney practicing at federal and tribal courts in Eastern Oklahoma. This is part two talking about traffic stops happening here in the Muscogee Creek Nation, a reservation in Indian country. I want to say this applies to, what’s happening, typically in, the Cherokee Nation too, Choctaw Nation. Here I’m going to address Muscogee Creek Nation specifically and want to point out that a lot of this certainly applies to non-Native American folks that are getting pulled over.
Where we left off with part one was I was talking about the stop talking about, handing over your license or registration and proof of insurance, and then we talked about the fact that, within the boundaries of the Muscogee Creek Nation, it is most likely that you’re being pulled over by law enforcement that is cross-deputized with, Light Horse Police rather than Light Horse Police. Finally, we were talking about, the first question, The typical first question from law enforcement is an interrogation question, they’ll ask you, do you know why I pulled you over and your response, should be nothing other than the officer, why did you pull me over? Or deputy, why did you pull me over? Your first question to, law enforcement should be, asking them, why they pulled you over. Sometimes that answer changes later on. It’s nice to, to get them making a statement there, at your window when they first pulled you over.
Now let’s talk a little more about the kind of questions, that you can expect, a lot of these stops, they don’t care about your, your broken tail light. They don’t care about your tag. A lot of times law enforcement is pulling you over because they want to get a look at you. You know, maybe suspect, based on the time that, you might be a drunk driver. Maybe they have other reasons. Maybe they’re profiling, and they saw that you’ve got a Cherokee nation, Choctaw nation, Oklahoma nation, or some other tribal nation, license plate, there’s a lot of reasons that they might have you there, but what law enforcement, unless they’re just trying to get through, a bunch of tickets at the end of the month, they meet a quota or meet an unofficial quota. They’re probably going to be asking you questions and let’s talk about those questions and what your rights are.
Your Rights During a Traffic Stop
The most important thing for you to understand is that when you are pulled over, what you are obligated to do is you’re obligated to provide your license registration, proof of insurance, and you don’t have to answer any questions. Okay. And it is important that you choose not to answer questions because, you know, the officer is there potentially, investigating you. They’re, they’re not your buddy. They’re not your pal. Let’s talk about a few of the questions that are likely to come up.
So we talked first about that first question. Do you know why I pulled you over? Don’t answer that question. Respond with the question. Why did you pull me over? If they ask you anything else, what you need to politely do is tell them, officer, I’m not interested in answering any of your questions. There’s a lot of different ways to skin that cat. You can, you can say, Hey, I saw a lawyer, on YouTube or online who said, I don’t have to answer your questions. And, I, I really don’t want to answer your questions. Or you can say, officer, I know my rights. I’m choosing not to answer any questions. Am I being detained? and, that’s a signal to them that, you know, you are, looking to, to make it through this stop and move along, as soon as you are, legally permitted to do so.
Dealing with Questions about Firearms
One of the questions that, happens a lot, especially here in, Oklahoma, because we’re a constitutional carry, state is officers and officers are also, nervous about armed, suspects. They may ask you, do you have a firearm in the vehicle? Here’s the fact is that they’re not entitled to know that. Now you may save yourself some trouble if you don’t have a firearm by just saying, I don’t have a firearm, but if you do have a firearm, my inclination, if I have a firearm in the vehicle is to, just say, officer, with all due respect, I don’t have to answer any of these questions and I don’t wish to do so, am I being detained? and, hopefully they’ll respond, reasonably, you know, they may sort of try and persuade you. They’re allowed to lie to you during these investigations. They may say to you, well, we need to know for our protection. something like that. The one exception that I would offer, with regard to that question is if you’re open carrying, on your hip or, you’ve got some holster on your body. You may want to consider saying, officer, I have a firearm right here on my belt, because they, they can get, super weird about, spotting a firearm, within hand’s reach. If you’ve got a firearm that’s in the glove box, there’s no reason to tell them that, you certainly, you don’t lie to them about it, but you just answer officer, I don’t think I need to answer any other questions than, about this, this stop and, I’m choosing not to answer your questions. So, taking that first example, just understand firearms, there might be a, an exception where you would want to communicate with them about that.
Call for a Free Consultation
Again, my name is Ted Hasse. I practice in, federal and tribal courts here in Eastern Oklahoma. If you or a loved one is having some legal issue in Muskogee Creek nation or, any other tribal court, you’re going to want to give us a call. You want to get good representation. You can call us at (918) 947-6552. We’d be happy to talk to you.