In New York, a large body of law has developed around police interaction with civilians that they encounter on the street. When may a police officer approach you for information, question you about criminal activity, detain you and finally, arrest you? Experienced New York criminal defense lawyers must be well versed in this area of law. If the police overstep their authority and thereby obtain evidence, skilled criminal attorneys can challenge that evidence in Court at a suppression hearing and have the evidence suppressed. Suppression of evidence can lead to the dismissal or reduction of charges, favorable jury verdicts and favorable plea bargains. Here at Tilem & Campbell, we have used suppression to obtain dismissals of some tough cases.

Suppression, can be especially valuable in fighting drug cases or gun cases since without the contraband as evidence, the case is almost always dismissed. But suppression can also be useful to prevent the admission at trial of statements, identifications, physical evidence of criminal activity or electronic surveillance.

No two cases are alike and each case and each set of facts must be analyzed by analogizing from previously decided cases with similar facts. In a well written and thorough decision, the New York Court of Appeals developed four “Levels” of police intrusions with each Level being based upon the intensity of the intrusion upon the civilian’s life. See People v. De Bour, 40 N.Y.2d 210 (1976). These four level have become the guiding principle for police encounters with civilians on the streets of New York. So much so that New York Courts have cited to Debour well over 1600 times in judicial opinions that have been published in New York. That means that in the more than 33years since Debour was decided, New York Courts cited to it on average about 50 times per year in published opinions.

In the next blog, I will lay out the four levels of intrusion that the Court of Appeals described in Debour.

Remember, to consult with experienced criminal lawyers about the specific facts of a case.

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