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  1. #1
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    Default Charged With Obstruction for Refusal to Give Drunk Person's Car Keys to the Police

    My question involves civil rights in the State of: Virginia

    Hello all,
    I was involved in an incident where I was charged with Obstruction of Justice.

    Long story short, I took someones keys (in an attempt to keep them from drinking and driving) while she was being irate and disorderly, and unfortunately, the sheriffs deputies arrived while we were in the parking lot. The deputies began attending to the situation, and asked where her keys were. I told them that I had them in my pocket, and they asked me to hand them over. I objected by saying "no" and the deputies again asked that I surrender them. Again, I abstained and said "no" and was taken under arrest for Obstruction of Justice.

    So to explain, I only said "no" because the keys didn't belong to me, and had the lady asked me to surrender them, then I would have immediately. Nonetheless, I had the keys in my hand and were subsequently dropped as the deputy took my hands under control. The lady was taken home by the deputies (which I appreciated), and was not charged with any crime.

    My question is based on my feeling that it is against my civil rights to take me under arrest for failing to comply with an unlawful order. To try my hand at legal speak, I feel I was charged with Obstruction of Justice for maintaining my 4th Amendment rights. Were my civil rights violated?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Did Not Relinquish Keys, Charged with Obstruction

    Quote Quoting DIPandObs
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    My question involves civil rights in the State of: Virginia

    My question is based on my feeling that it is against my civil rights to take me under arrest for failing to comply with an unlawful order. To try my hand at legal speak, I feel I was charged with Obstruction of Justice for maintaining my 4th Amendment rights. Were my civil rights violated?
    No, your civil rights were not violated. The keys were not yours. You had no right to take them over her objection in the first place and certainly you had no right to keep them after the police told you to turn them over. It is perfectly legal for the police to retrieve property that is wrongly held by another. That’s what they were trying to do here. It was a lawful order. Your motives were good — wanting to prevent a person from driving drunk — and once the cops arrived, they certainly weren’t likely to let her do that. There was simply no reason for you to refuse the officer’s order that I can see. And by refusing you made the job of the officers that much more difficult than it needed to be, hence your arrest for obstruction.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Did Not Relinquish Keys, Charged with Obstruction

    Quote Quoting DIPandObs
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    My question is based on my feeling that it is against my civil rights to take me under arrest for failing to comply with an unlawful order. To try my hand at legal speak, I feel I was charged with Obstruction of Justice for maintaining my 4th Amendment rights. Were my civil rights violated?
    Gosh, not even a thief trying to steal a drunk woman's car could have phrased that better.

    The police encounter a woman who is creating a disturbance. Their investigation reveals she is under the influence to such an extent that she is unable to care for her own safety of the safety of others, so they take her into temporary custody to remove her to a place of safety. In such a situation, they are also obligated to safeguard her property because she is too intoxicated to do so herself. Upon learning that someone posses keys to the drunk woman's vehicle, they ask them to surrender those keys so they can secure the car and ensure someone who is unauthorized to do so does not steal the vehicle. That person refuses and in doing so, interferes with/delays/obstructs the officers in the performance of their duties, which is illegal. That person then gets arrested for obstructing the officers and being a general pain in the ass.

    I really don't see a problem here.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Did Not Relinquish Keys, Charged with Obstruction

    Quote Quoting Taxing Matters
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    No, your civil rights were not violated. The keys were not yours. You had no right to take them over her objection in the first place and certainly you had no right to keep them after the police told you to turn them over. It is perfectly legal for the police to retrieve property that is wrongly held by another. That’s what they were trying to do here. It was a lawful order.
    The keys weren't mine, but I did not take them over her objection (or forcefully). She voluntarily gave them to me after being asked.

    Quote Quoting L-1
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    In such a situation, they are also obligated to safeguard her property because she is too intoxicated to do so herself.
    I'm curious about this. What would obligate them to do this?

    Quote Quoting L-1
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    Upon learning that someone posses keys to the drunk woman's vehicle, they ask them to surrender those keys so they can secure the car and ensure someone who is unauthorized to do so does not steal the vehicle.
    I don't disagree with the thought here, but would it be permitted to make that decision over her? I had the keys, I had shown no criminal intent, the keys were not previously used to commit a crime.

    Suppose that I had surrendered the keys; what if they were lost? What if they weren't even her keys to begin with? What if someone else who she drove with (not involved in the incident or drinking) could have taken them rather than the deputies? What if taking her home (using the key to unlock the front door) put her with an abusive relative or spouse (which WAS mentioned in her rant)? Most of these questions ran through my head during the incident and I felt that I could potentially be held liable if something had happened to her because I gave up her keys.

    Thank you for all the input.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Did Not Relinquish Keys, Charged with Obstruction

    Her property rights certainly are something she could have discussed with the police.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Did Not Relinquish Keys, Charged with Obstruction

    I disagree with the others. If the woman gave them to you when you asked then you had lawful possession of the keys and unless the true owner was claiming you refused to relinquish the keys to her or another of her choosing, you had no obligation to relinquish them to the police. The police had no need of the keys and as far as I can see no lawful right to demand them given the woman was not driving the car.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Did Not Relinquish Keys, Charged with Obstruction

    He indicated up front that he took the woman's keys without her permission. It was later, after several refusals of lawful orders from the police, that he apparently indicated that he wanted the woman's permission before he would obey the orders of the police.

    He can, of course, try to convince the prosecutor, judge or jury that his refusal was not "without just cause".

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Did Not Relinquish Keys, Charged with Obstruction

    Quote Quoting Mr. Knowitall
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    He indicated up front that he took the woman's keys without her permission.
    Your interpretation of what I said may be that I took them without her permission, however the fact is that she relinquished them to me voluntarily after being asked.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Did Not Relinquish Keys, Charged with Obstruction

    You are free to argue that, with your lawyer, to the prosecutor and, if necessary, at trial.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Did Not Relinquish Keys, Charged with Obstruction

    Quote Quoting DIPandObs
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    Your interpretation of what I said may be that I took them without her permission, however the fact is that she relinquished them to me voluntarily after being asked.
    Even if that is the case, they still were not your keys. The officers needed her keys to carry out their duties to secure her property and their order to you to surrender the keys was a lawful one. I do not see your refusal to comply here as at all justified. Once you gave up the keys to the police, you could not be held responsible for what the police did with the keys, so arguing that line of thought won’t help you.

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