How New York Courts Determine the Legality of a Defendant’s Arrest

Recently, in a New York gun possession case, a state appellate court issued a written opinion discussing whether the police officers’ approach of the defendant, as well as their subsequent investigation, was supported by reasonable suspicion and probable cause. Ultimately, the court determined that the officers’ initial approach was justified under the “common-law right to inquire,” and that the officers’ observations of the defendant as they approached gave rise to probable cause. Thus, the court affirmed the denial of the defendant’s motion to suppress.

According to the court’s opinion, two police officers were on routine patrol. There had been numerous reports of shootings in the area. While on patrol, the officers received a tip that a black male with a bushy beard and dreadlocks had a gun and was inside a particular residence. The officers later observed the defendant, who matched the physical description given by the tipster, leaving the residence. As the officers approached the defendant, he placed his hand on his waist and fled. As the officers were chasing the defendant, they witnessed him discard a gun.

The defendant filed a motion to suppress the gun, arguing that the officers lacked reasonable suspicion to approach him. It was this illegal approach, the defendant argued, that led to him grabbing his waist and fleeing.

The Court’s Decision

The court determined that the officers’ stop of the defendant was justified. The court broke down each step of the officers’ interaction with the defendant.

First, the court noted that the officers had a “founded suspicion” of criminal activity when they observed the defendant leave the residence named by the tipster. The court explained that this gave the officers the “common-law right to inquire.”

The court then noted that, as the officers approached the defendant to inquire, he grabbed at his waist and fled. The court explained that this gave rise to a reasonable suspicion that the defendant was involved in criminal activity, justifying the officers’ pursuit of the defendant. At the point in the pursuit when the officers saw the defendant toss a gun to the ground, the court explained that they then had probable cause to arrest the defendant for the possession of a firearm.

After breaking down each step of the interaction between the officers and the defendant, and finding that the officers’ actions at each step were justified based on the information available to them at the time, the court affirmed the denial of the defendant’s motion to suppress.

Have You Been Arrested for a New York Gun Case?

If you have recently been arrested and charged with a New York gun crime, it is essential that you discuss your case with a dedicated New York criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At the New York criminal defense law firm of Tilem & Associates, we represent individuals charged with serious New York felonies, including gun possession charges. To learn more about how we can help you defend against the charges you are facing, call 877-377-8666 to schedule a free consultation today.

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