‘We Don’t Dial 911’—Legal Problems Caused by Bumper Stickers and Signs

By Woody published on in Videos

Did you know that something as simple as a bumper sticker could make your day in court a nightmare? In this 1:29-minute video, former prosecutor and Texas Law Shield Firearms Program Attorney Emily Taylor explains why you should be cautious of the stickers you place on your car and the signs you post on your fence.

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Comments (135)

  • Tyler

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    I’ve seen a few folks posting about the inadmissibility of a bumper sticker and I wanted to provide an example where it has been admitted.

    US v. Stone, 852 F.Supp.2d 820 (E.D. Mich. 2012)…bumper stickers were held to be admissible. It was being used to show conspiratorial intent, but still admissible under the same rules of evidence that would be applied in most criminal proceedings.

    Reply

    • PeteDub

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      @Tyler

      A conspiracy happens over a period of time. So the ACT of distributing a bumper sticker with a specific message while engaged in a conspiracy can be evidence of conspiratorial intent — as was held to be in the Stone case you cited.

      The bumper sticker in Stone was not admissible as evidence of the defendant’s “state of mind” under the hearsay exception, it was direct evidence of the conspiracy itself. That specific conspiracy was to violate the NFA by owning and using machine guns without paying the applicable tax.

      The bumper sticker at issue said “When the going gets tough I get a machine gun” — so the bumper sticker was exactly linked to the exact conspiracy. The bumper sticker was not on the defendants’ vehicle, it was part of a collection of literature the defendants had been distributing to promote their conspiracy to violate the NFA — so the bumper sticker was in fact THEIR statement.

      But in a self-defense shooting case a bumper sticker is not probative of a defendant’s “state of mind” (which is only relevant in a 1st degree murder case anyway), nor is the bumper sticker a statement by the defendant himself, nor is it a statement by the defendant at the time of the shooting. So, IN NO WAY does US v. Stone or any other case I have seen suggest that a bumper sticker could be legitimately introduced as evidence of “state of mind” in a self-defense shooting case.

      And, no, this does not go to the “weight” of evidence given to the bumper sticker, it goes to whether the bumper sticker may be admitted into evidence at all. If a bumper sticker were so admitted, that would be grounds for reversal of any conviction.

      The Daubert rule is applicable because criminal charges in a self-defense shooting case are about behavior, not speech. Even if the hearsay hurdle could be overcome somehow, the only way a bumper sticker could be presented as relevant to the defendant’s behavior would be if there were a scientifically proven link between individuals’ speech on bumper stickers and those individuals’ behavior. The only way to present such a link is through expert opinion testimony — hence, the Daubert rule. Due process requires that all evidence be factual, not just supposition — this is the impact of Daubert beyond mere opinion testimony.

      Reply

  • Hide Behind

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    “Just because you have a Right to do, does not always mean it is the Right thing to do”.

    Reply

  • Jason Janacek

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    This is the way I ultimately look at it. I live in Texas. I cannot see a Grand Jury even indicting a man defending his family legitamately. REGARDLESS OF A BUMPER STICKER. No different than having a loades pistol if carrying concealed. Why? You must be wanting to kill someone. Furthermore, if I was subsequently tried, and found guilty of murder, I would rather do time away from my family then be burying them. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. I have a bumper sticker on my truck that says “Think Twice, Cause I Won’t”. And I mean it, and I’m damn serious about it. I would never think twice about shooting any man, woman, or even child that was attempting deadly force towards me or my family. If you would hesitate because of fear of prosecution, then you do not even need to own a firearm for protection.

    When the day comes that more men like me will use common sense when it comes to using deadly force and mean what they say, crime will go down.

    Reply

    • SDN

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      Let me know how that works in Leftist cities like Austin, Houston, etc.

      Reply

    • Paul

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      Just because you have a carry conceal, does not mean you looking to kill someone, it”s there for your protection, so that you life will not be taken by some lowlife scummer.. Common sense is better you than me!

      Reply

    • Jonathan

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      Would you think twice about shooting any man, woman, or child who was not attempting deadly force towards you or your family?

      And if you haven’t thought twice, how would you know whether the person you were about to kill was attempting deadly force or not?

      Reply

    • PeteDub

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      @Jonathan

      With all due respect your post is stupid, ignorant and hateful.

      A person under attack has no duty to “know” the intent of the attacker as you claim. By attacking someone an attacker essentially abandons any legal or moral rights the attacker might have in contrast to the victim’s basic human right of self-defense. All a victim of attack is morally or legally obligated to “know” is whether he is being attacked, and whether that attack creates fear of bodily harm. It has nothing to do with the attacker’s intent, and it certainly has nothing to do with the attacker “attempting deadly force,” as you wrongly claim.

      Also, there is no legal or moral obligation for a victim of attack to “think twice,” and your suggestion does not even make common sense. By the time a victim has ascertained that he is under attack and has developed a fear of bodily harm, it is far too late to “think twice.” People who do “think twice” have a name — “decedent,” because failure to act decisively in self-defense when under attack is often fatal.

      You are an effing idiot. Where do you get this kind of stupidity — from Al Sharpton or from Barack Obama, or from some other bigoted hater who thinks people should just let attackers kill them?

      Reply

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