ATTORNEY ADVERTISING
Published on:

NEW YORK SEARCH AND SEIZURE – SLOW DRIVING IN HIGH CRIME AREA AT NIGHT, WITHOUT MORE, INSUFFICIENT TO ESTABLISH REASONABLE SUSPICION – GUN, CLIP AND BULLETS SUPPRESSED

In any New York criminal case where the prosecution has obtained evidence such as guns or narcotics, that they intend to introduce at trial, one of the first areas a criminal defense attorney will explore is why the police stopped/seized and searched the defendant, his home, his vehicle etc. If the stop/seizure was illegal, all evidence obtained as a result of the stop should be suppressed.
In People v. Sobotker, 43 N.Y.2d 559 (1978), the police observed a vehicle driving slowly at night in a well traveled and well lit entertainment and shopping area. Several burglaries had recently taken place in the area. The police observed the occupants glance towards a bar as the vehicle actually came to a stop and paused for two seconds. The vehicle then continued to a stop sign where the police claimed the occupants glanced towards a second bar. At that point, the police stopped the vehicle. The driver exited the vehicle and told the police he did not have a license nor could he produce a registration card. The passengers were then ordered out of the vehicle and during a pat-down search, bullets were found in the pocket of one of the passengers. A gun was subsequently found in the vehicle.
The defendant’s motion to suppress the weapon and the bullets was denied and defendant was convicted of Unlawful Possession of Weapons by Persons Under Sixteen in violation of Penal Law 265.05. The Appellate Division affirmed the denial of defendant’s suppression motion however, the Court of Appeals reversed holding that there was no objective evidence of criminal activity as of the time of the stop. The defendant’s “innocuous” acts of pausing in front of a bar and stopping at a stop sign did not reasonably denote criminal activity. The gun and bullets were therefore suppressed, the judgment vacated and the indictment dismissed.
For more information about this, or any other New York State or Federal criminal matter, please contact Tilem & Campbell toll free at 1-877-377-8666 or visit us on the web at www.tilemandcampbell.com.