FAQ: "What's the legality behind opening someone's car door?"

 JohnTV's Brian Bates opening the car door on a 'John' that he's caught multiple times with street prostitutes.

JohnTV's Brian Bates opening the car door on a 'John' that he's caught multiple times with street prostitutes.

YouTuber 'Ricky Townsend' wants to know about the legality of opening car doors when JohnTV confronts individuals engaged in acts of prostitution.

 Asked via YouTube in the comment section of a JohnTV video on June 6, 2014.

Asked via YouTube in the comment section of a JohnTV video on June 6, 2014.

New to your work but really impressed. Question – what’s the legality behind opening someone’s car door?

Answer: (6/7/2014 by Brian Bates) Simply put, because of the totality of my intent and actions when opening a car door – yes, it is legal.

The opening of car doors is probably the most controversial aspect of my activism (with getting paid for my efforts being the second most controversial aspect).

In fact, a prosecutor once told me they had specifically looked into the legality of me opening car doors and that they had determined “while legal, its highly ill-advised.”

Most of my critics think they are lawyers – probably from watching way too many episodes of COPS or reruns of LA Law. The assumption of criminality usually being one of robbery, burglary, trespass, or even car jacking.

I’m not a lawyer, and don’t pretend to be, so I’ll address these false assumptions as best I can and as how they have been explained to me by actual lawyers.

Burglary is the breaking into of a ‘dwelling’ with the ‘intent’ to commit a crime. In Oklahoma a vehicle is not considered a dwelling and my intent is well established – not to commit a crime, but in fact to stop one and gather the evidence required to secure a prosecution.

As opposed to burglary – theft from a home – robbery is a theft from a person. However, robbery requires the wrongful taking of personal property from an individual, against their will, using force or fear. Again, based on my well established intent and the fact no physical thing is taken from the ‘John’, robbery does not apply.

Carjacking is a very serious offense – and once again it doesn’t apply even remotely to this situation. In Oklahoma, carjacking is the taking of a vehicle from a driver or passenger by force, threat of force or while armed. Obviously no car is taken nor intended to be taken in my actions.

Trespass is probably the offense thrown out there most often by those critical of my activism. Simply put, trespass in Oklahoma applies to land, not vehicles.

I’ll concede that the opening of car doors is extremely dangerous (but also necessary) and I’d never encourage others to take this action – just as I do not encourage others to confront individuals engaged in criminal activity.

As an example; The still frame image below is from an incident where I opened the door of a ‘John’ (and felon registered sex offender) named James O’Berry. Not only did he initially get out of his vehicle to assault me (unsuccessfully), but a short time later he was arrested and later convicted of murdering a woman.

 James O'Berry murdered an OKC woman not long after this video by JohnTV was recorded. O'Berry is currently serving a life-sentence in prison.

James O'Berry murdered an OKC woman not long after this video by JohnTV was recorded. O'Berry is currently serving a life-sentence in prison.

Below are some still images from busts over the years where it was necessary to open a car door in order to both stop the criminal activity and document the elements of the crime and the perpetrators.