To pee or not to pee - that is the question


#1

If I were to go to a nightclub, and if that club were then raided by the police, and if I were then hauled down to the local police station and asked to pee in a cup, so that they might analyze the contents, would I be within my rights to refuse? What does the law say about this? Are they allowed to draw blood? What is the urine tested for? Amphetamines? Marijuana? Coke? Suppose I had left the country to engage in a week-long heroin jag and then returned to Taiwan, with the stuff still floating through my veins - would I be breaking any Taiwanese laws? All of this is hypothetical of course - I get high off of a Starbucks double latte. Just curious I guess.

Also, I can’t pee when people are watching…


#2

The following is a quote from a column Richard Hartzell wrote in September, based on his interview with officers from the National Police Administration: [quote]However, they (the police) stated that it would be possible to get a court order from the prosecutor that you were required to urinate in the cup, before you could go. In their experience, most people are cooperative, however if someone was offering an adamant refusal and there was serious suspicion that he/she was involved in using illegal substances, or involved in other criminal activity, the Police could certainly make application with the prosecutor.[/quote]
Sorry for not having replied earlier to this interview - it’s been on my list of things to do for a long time. My question is this: If there is a protocol involved, why isn’t it followed each and every time? If they only apply this protocol when there is “serious suspicion”, then does that mean that in the other instances when it isn’t applied that the police are asking for a urine sample out of whimsy? Surely they would not be nonplussed by a request for a prosecutor’s writ, as it seems to be a legal right. If this is a legal right, then they should implement it each time, every time. Otherwise, people’s civil rights are being marginalized.

Another issue is a little bit more hypothetical. Is it illegal to be a drug user in Taiwan? This is different from using drugs, which we know is illegal in Taiwan. Similarly, homosexuals would not be in violation of sodomy laws in more backward places just for being gay - they would have to be caught breaking the law. Crimes of status are rather immoral - we would have to lock up all kleptomaniacs as soon as they were diagnosed, rather than wait for them to actually steal something. My point is this: since one could admit to using drugs habitually without breaking the law, why does the presence of drugs in one’s blood stream constitute a crime? Presumably these drugs could have been ingested outside Taiwan, or in international waters. Even Gold medal Olympians have been able to hang onto their medals after they were discovered with trace amount of THC in their system, after it was argued that the drugs could have been ingested incidentally - that is, as second hand smoke. :wink: In Hartzell’s interview, the reply was this: [quote] they suggested that if the person-in-question had just come back from a heroin party in Burma (for example), then all relevant evidence should be assembled, and he/she could then present it in a coherent fashion when called into court.[/quote]
Does this mean that there is no presumption of innocence in Taiwan? Is one required to prove one’s innocence in other areas of the legal system as well, or is this again subject to the whimsy of the police? Are the police versed in the laws here? I know they know how to raid nightclubs, but are they familiar enough with the law to back up their actions, or do they just expect all of us to tremble at the sight of them and meekly obey whatever extralegal requests they might have? As far as myself, I am so sick of the corruption and general incompetence I see in the police here, I see no reason why I should comply with any request the police make, if there is no legal obligation for me to do so. :unamused:


#3

In regard to my column in the CHINA POST where I discussed this entire matter, I offer the following comments.

Regarding making application with the prosecutor: According to what the police were saying, I got the impression that this could take some time. It certainly did not seem to be “within 30 minutes.” It might be “within several days”. In the meantime, since you are being non-cooperative, I assume that you will be held in a holding cell with various other people, some of whom may have bad breath, body odor, etc.

Regarding the quotation: " . . . they suggested that if the person-in-question had just come back from a heroin party in Burma (for example), then all relevant evidence should be assembled, and he/she could then present it in a coherent fashion when called into court." I think that this comes across as rather sarcastic in English, although in Chinese it is certainly less so. But the point remains: Can you present a coherent case to prove that you did not use the drugs in Taiwan? That is the final issue, according to what I understood. If the drugs are in your system, then you are highly suspicious of being a Taiwan-based drug user. OK, fine, you say you are not. Prove it. I think that this is the bottom line, even though it is not very pleasant.

I think that in many instances there is no presumption of innocence here, although of course the Chinese do not interpret their laws and regulations that way. However, in terms of the actual enforcement, it often works out that if you are highly suspicious (due to any number of contributing circumstances), then there is a clear presumption of guilt.

If you really want to see some change in this kind of attitude among the officialdom here, then you and I should sit down together and discuss your sponsorship of a suitable “test case,” to get things fully clarified via the use of the court system.


#4

How long are police allowed to hold people without charging them? It is not illegal to be non-cooperative until they produce a prosecutor’s writ, right? Are they allowed to hold a person for several days without formal charges being laid?

No way! :smiley: The price of failure would mean a stint in Taiwan’s penal system - one aspect of Taiwan which I feel no need to experience! But thanks for asking! :smiley: :wink:


#5

Actually, you have not yet caught my meaning. A “test case” in this area would be carefully designed to protect your rights and keep you out of jail.

As a matter of fact, I am dealing with several cases at the present time where the persons involved are being actively sought by the police. That is somewhat serious, but I can arrange the paperwork so that they stay protected.

What I am talking about in terms of a “test case” in regard to the “to pee or not to pee question” is something much less sensitive. Again, I would recommend that we get together and discuss possibilities over coffee.