New York Defendant Successfully Argues for Guilty Plea to be Vacated in Weapons Case, Highlighting Importance of Reasonable Suspicion in Police Stops

In a recent case before a New York court, the defendant appealed the lower court’s denial of his motion to suppress tangible evidence. The defendant originally pled guilty to criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, but he argued on appeal that the officers arresting him did not actually have the legal right to stop him before arresting him. On appeal, the higher court agreed, reversing the lower court’s decision on the motion to suppress and vacating his guilty plea.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, police officers patrolling one evening received an anonymous 911 call that a Black male with an orange sweatshirt was in the area and had a gun. Officers began to look for the individual, and they eventually came across a Black male with an orange sweatshirt. The officers exited their car and ordered the individual to show his hands. The individual ran, taking his jacket off and throwing it on the ground as he sped away.
Officers eventually caught the suspect, and they found a handgun in the jacket he discarded. He was then arrested and charged with criminal possession of a weapon.

The Decision

The defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence of the gun, which the lower court denied. The defendant appealed, arguing that the officers did not have legal grounds to stop and arrest him. Officers must, argued the defendant, have “reasonable suspicion” that a suspect is participating in criminal activity in order to chase and legally stop that individual. Here, the officers did not know anything about the defendant and therefore had no reasonable suspicion that he had a gun.

Looking carefully at the evidence, the higher court agreed with the defendant. The officers had received an anonymous 911 call, which was vague and not based on any corroborated information. The caller did not provide any contact information, and the officers failed to first ask the defendant a single question before automatically resorting to ordering him to put his hands in the air and then chasing him as he fled.

Because the officers lacked reasonable suspicion that criminal activity was afoot, the motion to suppress should have been granted. Therefore, the higher court reversed the lower court’s decision, which had the effect of vacating the defendant’s guilty plea. Thus, as a result of the appellate court’s decision, the defendant’s case now appears to be over, meaning he is free to move on with his life.

Do You Need a Trusted New York Criminal Defense Attorney by Your Side?

If you or a loved one is facing gun charges in New York, call our firm at Tilem & Associates. We have been proudly representing the rights of individuals facing charges for over 25 years, and we are known for helping our clients preserve the freedoms they value most. For a free and confidential consultation with a member of our team, call us today at 877-377-8666. We also handle other serious felony cases, such as assaults, sex crimes, and burglaries. ou can also fill out our online form to have an attorney reach back out to you as soon as possible about your case.

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