When Stopped by Law Enforcement

What to do When Approached by Law Enforcement

The MOST IMPORTANT thing that can keep you legally safe is that you remain in 100% compliance to our  Code of Ethics, and Code of Conduct, and remain in compliance with the ONAC Member Guidelines about the amount of sacred medicine you may carry, and the amount and type of medicines you can cultivate as sanctioned by the Church.

Here are some additional links to more information:

https://nativeamericanchurches.org/notice/

https://nativeamericanchurches.org/legal-information-for-attorneys-and-u-s-legislatures/

If at all possible, don’t travel with your sacred medicine. Safety first. This is especially true if you are flying. It isn’t worth the risk.

For those who must travel with sacred medicine, please take these reminders into consideration, and review them frequently:

  1. Always travel with your Membership card in easy access. Carry all paperwork given to you by your ONAC Branch or ONAC Medicine Person (this paperwork explains the medicine you are carrying, the amount you have with you, as well as your membership information for further validation that you are a member in good standing.)
  2. Be sure your medicine is out of sight in your vehicle and at home. We recommend purchasing an inexpensive lock box to store your medicine. It is also highly recommended to put an Oklevueha Native American Church sticker on the box.
  3. If stopped while driving:
    1. Roll down your window and be respectful and polite to the officer, regardless of their tone or attitude. Show them your license and registration, but DO NOT pull out your Membership card.
    2. If the officer claims he smells something, reply non-defensively, “I don’t smell anything.” If he claims he can see the lock box and asks about it, reply non-defensively, “Those are my personal belongings.” You do not need to tell him what is in a locked box, or anything else in your car, unless you are being officially detained or arrested.
    3. If the officer asks you to exit the vehicle or asks to search the vehicle, ask the officer, “Am I under arrest?”If he says, “No,” ask if you are being detained.

      If he says “No,” and he still wants you to step out of vehicle, you need to say “If I am not being arrested or being detained, I would rather stay in my vehicle, because I feel safer here.”

      If he still insists you exit the vehicle, ask him again if you are being arrested or detained, and if he at any time he states you are being detained, ask him for what reason. If he says it is because of a traffic stop, they are not allowed to detain you outside of your vehicle. That would be an traffic infraction, not in violation of any law.

      If he still persists and says you are now being detained, ask him what his reasonable (probable cause) suspicion is that you are about to commit a crime or that I have commited a crime. If he says the crime is the traffic violation, you tell him it is an infraction, not a crime. (Traffic infraction means you are in a vehicle and you failed to signal, or tags are out of date, etc. There are no laws violated.) You are under no obligation to leave your vehicle just because you are asked.

      There needs to be probable cause and/or an arrest before you must exit the vehicle. They can only detain you on the side of the road, for a resonable amount of time for the traffic infraction they pulled you over for. Once they write you a violation and they sign it and walk away, and they turn around and come back and ask you a question, that is baiting you. You are under no obligations to answer any thing further. You may leave after they have issues a citation. Do not engage them in conversation after this point. 

    4. If things escalate to the point where the officer searches your car and asks to you to unlock the box, you point to the Oklevueha sticker on the box and explain that the box belongs to the church. It is illegal for a law enforcement officer to search anything that belongs to a church because all church laws are Federal, and the officer does not have jurisdiction. Additionally, there must have a government compelling interest and an official Federal warrant to enable anyone to search church property.
    5. If the officer does find medicine and asks you about it, now is the time to pull out your Membership card. Encourage the officer to scan the QR code. This will take him to a page on the website outlining all your rights as a member of Oklevueha Native American Church. Again, we emphasize the importance of remaining calm, respectful, and polite. 99.9% of law enforcement officers have no idea about the laws protecting your freedom of religion. This page will educate them.
    6. Above all else, please remain in compliance with regards to how much medicine you have on your person and how much you are growing. You can review these important numbers in this page of the website: Sacraments – Personal Use Requirements and Limitations
  1. If officers come to your home:
    1. As stated above, be respectful and polite. Know your rights: just because they ask to search or enter your home, you are not obligated to let them in unless they have a warrant.
    2. If a warrant is produced, read the warrant first, before allowing the officers into your property. (It is highly unlikely this will ever happen)
    3. If things escalate to the point where the officer searches your home and asks to you to unlock the box, you point to the Oklevueha sticker on the box and explain that the box belongs to the church. It is illegal for a law enforcement officer to search anything that belongs to a church because all church laws are Federal, and the officer does not have jurisdiction. Additionally, there must be a government compelling interest and an official Federal warrant to enable anyone to search church property.
    4. If the officer does find medicine and asks you about it, now is the time to pull out your Membership card. Encourage the officer to scan the QR code. This will take him to a page on the website outlining all your rights as a member of Oklevueha Native American Church. Again, we emphasize the importance of remaining calm, respectful, and polite. 99.9% of law enforcement officers have no idea about the laws protecting your freedom of religion. This page will educate them.
    5. Above all else, please remain in compliance with regards to how much medicine you have on your person and how much you are growing. You can review these important numbers in this page of the website: Sacraments – Personal Use Requirements and Limitations
  2. Should you find yourself in a situation where none of these methods have worked, please contact [email protected] immediately, so we can assist you in strategizing your defense. Note: coming to Mother Church does not mean you will receive legal counsel or funds for your legal defense.