Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Legal Survival No. 1

If I wore a hat, I would have to tip it to all those lawyer-hating bloggers out there who mention lawyers every time they rant on what is wrong with America. Although I disagree, I understand the sentiment. Lawyers are the obvious and most visible manifestation of our litigious society. Easier to pick on a guy in a nice suit and perfect hair than the poor, helpless client who smoked four packs a day in- between devouring four fried chickens while watching Oprah and Dr. Phil.

As penance for all the wrongs I have perpetrated on society, I thought I should write a series of posts on common-sense legal topics for preppers, libertarians, and anti-government types. Nothing that I write is intended to be taken as specific legal advice to any person, place, or thing. Your results will likely vary.

This is the first installment.


This is probably the best advice that any lawyer will ever give any client. Not only do loose lips sink ships, but they also provide new "girlfriends" to large, tattooed men who reside in state-run communal facilities, otherwise known as prisons. A large percentage of crimes are not solved by a bunch of technicians running around in lab coats, but by informants, snitches, friends, and relatives.

I know, I know: You're not a criminal, so why worry? In this day and age, just about everything seems to be illegal or on the way to becoming illegal. You may not be a criminal now, but you may be sometime in the future. Just remember that semi-automatic rifles were once legal in California. Then they became illegal except for grandfathered and registered rifles. Then the grandfathered rifles became illegal and had to be surrendered or shipped out of California. What if you and your buddy held on to your previously legal rifles because you believe California's law is void under the Second Amendment? What if your buddy's wife rats him out during a nasty divorce, or rats you out because you took his side?

Being preppers, we recognize that the future is uncertain. This applies to changes in the law and our relationship with the government just as much as it does to oil spills, earthquakes, terrorist attacks, etc. Those things we do that make us independent, prepared, and that separate us from the sheeple at large are things that could subject us to scrutiny from government entities and possibly laws targeted at us. We are already familiar with gun grabbing politicians, BATFE, and anti-gun police. Depending upon what happens in the future, we may have to deal with food rationing, fuel rationing, water rationing, travel restrictions, property use restrictions, and other governmental limitations on liberty. The things we preppers do differently from the public at large, such as food storage, water storage, fuel stocking, gun collecting, and other preparations, we should each keep to ourselves. I know that this is commonly referred to as OPSEC, and it applies to interactions with governmental entities as well.

It is a good idea to keep in mind that part of the Miranda warning that states, "Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law." When dealing with any government agent, from the police to the building inspector to the Department of Motor Vehicles clerk, keep this warning in mind. Never say anything more than is required to deal with the business at hand. Be polite, answer relevant questions as succinctly as possible, and do not volunteer any additional information.

Again, I am not assuming that anyone out there is a criminal or is contemplating committing crimes. A practical example of what I am referring to: If you have a bunker underneath your garage or have a well on your property unknown to the local code authorities, I don't think that you are a criminal for exercising your property rights, but the authorities may put a serious crimp in your preparations or keep you from using your property improvements when you need them most. Pre-SHTF the authorities could demolish your bunker and cap your well. Post-SHTF the authorities could seize the supplies in your bunker and/or commandeer your property to use your bunker and your well. If nobody knows, the risk of code enforcement showing up is lessened and the chances of maintaining your resources post-SHTF are increased.

Prior to TEOTWAWKI, loose lips about prepping activities can also have far more serious consequences than a visit from code enforcement. That offhand statement about your shelter or bunker can cause a sheeple neighbor to become alarmed. The neighborhood gossip mill then turns you into some heavily armed hardcore survivalist. Next thing you know, that minor dispute with the neighbor whose dog craps on your lawn escalates to you getting served with an anti-harassment restraining order alleging that you own a bunker full of dangerous weapons and instill fear in your neighbors. Worse yet, black pajama-clad police show up en masse at your front door to serve the restraining order, because it is alleged that you own dangerous weapons. Even worse, the whole process is a public record available to anyone at the courthouse.

Can it get any worse? Yes, it can. Once allegations start flying in legal proceedings and the police have been involved, you may be "on the radar" with law enforcement. When you get pulled over for speeding, you may get asked about weapons and if you will consent to a safety search of your vehicle and person. I once had a client who was surrounded by police cars every time he was pulled over for a minor driving violation. His reputation, via his mouth, preceded him. As soon as police saw him, he was pulled over and at least two more cruisers arrived for backup.

Even if you are legally entirely in the right, how much time and money does it take to deal with the government over an alleged law violation or to comply with a governmental investigation? Does anyone like to fork over a wad of hard earned cash to lawyers? Would it not be simpler to avoid attention from the authorities in the first place? That is my point. Add "Keep Information to Myself" to your list of prep items. If you avoid coming to the attention of the authorities prior to SHTF, your money can be spent on preps rather than lawyers. And you are more likely to be able to enjoy the fruits of your prepping once SHTF, rather than cooling your heels in the 6'x8'.

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