If You Pass This Law Test, You Could Probably Be a Cop

Allison Lips

Image: Darrin Klimek/DigitalVision/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Real life isn't like an episode of "Law & Order." There are years and years of precedent with seemingly endless piles of paperwork to back them up. Some rights are enshrined in the Constitution. Others were added with the Bill of Rights. Even more have been established because a defendant felt their rights were being violated and their case made it to the United States Supreme Court.

You probably learned about the finer details of the United States government in history or civics class. However, as years pass, our memories fade and we tend to forget what the police are allowed to do and what constitutes police misconduct.

Before you decide if the police life is right for you, answer these simple questions about the law. While being a cop may seem exciting, it is mostly paper work and making sure everything abides by regulations.

Even if you don't want to be a police officer, you may want to brush up on the law. You don't want to wait until you're under investigation to find out that the one phone call rule only applies to fiction.


How well can you separate fact from fiction? Can you identify the real laws from the one's that TV police procedurals follow? Test your knowledge of the law to find out whether you'd cut it as a cop!

When must an arrested person be given the opportunity to make a phone call?

While there is not set time period, the ACLU of Northern California recommends a person who is arrested request a phone call within 3 hours of getting arrested. The person arrested should call a lawyer or a relative who can take charge of affairs.

Which item is not usually requested by a police officer during a routine traffic stop?

If you do not already have your license and registration out, it is wise to inform the officer that you are reaching for it. Otherwise, a police officer may think you're reaching for a gun.

Which of these is not a valid reason to arrest someone?

The Fifth Amendment guarantees the right to remain silent to avoid self-incrimination. If you refuse your right to remain silent, anything you say from that point on can be used against you in court.

When a police officer arrests someone, they must first issue what?

In Miranda v. Arizona, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that police officers must inform someone taken into custody of their rights. The four parts to the Miranda Warning are: you have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law, you have the right to an attorney, and if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you.

Which controversial practice was ruled legal in Terry v. Ohio?

In 1968, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that "stop and frisk" is legal and does not violate the Fourth Amendment's prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures. However, the police must have a reasonable suspicion that a the person stopped either has, will, or is currently committing a crime.

Which one can a police officer search without a warrant under a modified version of probable clause?

In Carrol v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a police officer can search a vehicle without a search warrant. However, the officer must have a reason to believe that evidence is in the vehicle.

Which one of these is not an acceptable reason to search a house without a warrant?

The Fourth Amendment guarantees a reasonable expectation of privacy. However, the police can search under extenuating circumstances, such as evidence is in plain view.

Which amendment guarantees the "right to bear arms?"

The First Amendment protects free speech. The Eighteenth Amendment prohibited alcohol. And the Twenty-seventh Amendment prohibits Congress from increasing its members' salaries until the beginning of the next term.

What is a definition for probable cause?

A police officer cannot arrest someone and claim probable clause. The officer must be able to explain the facts of the situation and why that fits the definition of probable cause.

In order for eminent domain laws to be valid, what must the land taken be used for?

The Fifth Amendment states that private property can be taken for public use under the "takings" clause. When the government invokes eminent domain, it must provide just compensation.

What phrase is used to describe illegally obtained evidence?

In 1939, Justice Felix Frankfurter coined the phrase to describe illegally obtained evidence. However, the original doctrine was established in 1920.

Which one of these is not a situation where illegally obtained evidence would be admissible?

For evidence to be admissible, it must be found in good faith. The police cannot do a search with malicious intent.

What is the one exception to having Miranda Rights read?

The Miranda Law is not part of the Constitution. Therefore, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that any information told to the police is admissible as long as it was not coerced.

What is it called when evidence is admitted because the police would have found it anyway?

In 1984, the U.S. Supreme ruled on Nix v. Williams. It came to the decision that illegally obtained evidence is admissible if it would have been found eventually using normal police procedures.

Which amendment prohibits the use of a confession that was obtained in violation of a suspect's right to an attorney?

In Massiah v United States, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Sixth Amendment prohibits the government from getting incriminating statements out of defendants after the defendant has invoked their right to a lawyer. This is now referred to as the Massiah Doctrine.

Which warning does the government issue to employees who are under internal investigation?

The Garrity Warning applies to public employees because they have the same rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments as those who do not work for the government. The difference is that whenever a government employee speaks to their employer about a potentially incriminating act, they are speaking to the government. This means that their Constitutional rights immediately go into effect and the employee must be informed of such.

What rule prevents most illegally obtained evidence from being used in court?

Mapp v Ohio established the exclusionary rule. The exclusionary rule applies to any evidence obtained in a way that violates the Fourth Amendment.

Which clause states that someone cannot be charged twice for the same crime?

While a person cannot be put on trial for the same crime twice, there is one exception. The federal government and a state government can charge someone for the same crime separately.

Which of these is not a right the First Amendment protects?

The First Amendment also protects the "right to petition the government for the redress of grievances." This gives citizens the right to seek government help or file a complaint against the government without fear of retribution.

What does the Equal Protection Clause mean?

The Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protect Clause requires states to provide equal protection. The federal government is covered under the Fifth Amendment's Due Process clause.

Which of these is not a valid reason to arrest someone?

Once a suspect is taken into custody, the police do not immediately have to read the Miranda Rights. The Miranda Rights are usually read immediately to allow for questioning to begin.

In order for someone to be arrested for driving under the influence, what does the person's blood alcohol level have to be?

Most states set .08 percent blood alcohol concentration as the guideline for placing an impaired driver under arrest. However, anything over 0 percent can result in an arrest.

Which one of these is an example of police misconduct?

Other examples of police misconduct include fraud, police brutality, torture and an abuse of authority. To make a case for police misconduct, a suspect must prove that the officer willfully engaged in unreasonable conduct.

What is entrapment?

The police do not have to identify themselves as such. An undercover officer is allowed to conduct a sting operation without answering the question, "Are you a cop?" They cannot suggest you commit a crime, though.

Which is an example of white-collar crime?

The FBI investigates white-collar crimes. Typically, a white collar crime involves a monetary crime, such as securities fraud and money laundering.

What are examples of resisting arrest?

Depending on the state and the severity of the alleged crime, resisting arrest can be a felony or a misdemeanor. If you are arrested, it is recommended that you cooperate to avoid making the situation worse.

What happens if a suspect cannot afford a lawyer?

To receive a court-appointed attorney, a defendant can request one at their arraignment. The defendant may also be required to provide proof they cannot afford a private defense attorney.

Which one of these is not an example of a felony?

Misdemeanor crimes have a maximum punishment of one year in prison. A felony will result in more jail time.

What qualifies as reasonable suspicion?

While reasonable suspicion allows an officer to conduct a search, it is limiting. Obtaining a warrant and probable cause give police officers broader powers.

What does the plain view doctrine allow?

Legally, evidence obtained through the plain view doctrine must be immediately identifiable. If it is in a container, the item does not fall under this doctrine.

Under federal law, which one of these is not illegal to discriminate against?

Under the Fourteenth Amendment, sex, race and national origin are all protected and cannot be discriminated against. Religion, color and disabilities are also protected.

Which type of law applies to the entire United States?

Regardless of which level of government creates a law, it cannot violate the United States Constitution. If federal and state law conflict, federal law supersedes state law.

What type of punishment does the Eighth Amendment prohibit?

Despite prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment, the Constitution does not elaborate on what constitutes it. The Supreme Court has ruled that punishment may not be disproportionate to the crime committed.

Other than cruel and unusual punishment, what does the Eighth Amendment prohibit?

"Cruel and unusual punishment" is not a phrase that originated in the U.S. Constitution. In 1689, the English Bill of Rights granted protection from cruel and unusual punishment.

What type of trial does the Seventh Amendment guarantee?

The Supreme Court ruled that a jury trial is only required for a "serious" offense. This is defined as an offense that could result in a prison sentence longer than six months.

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