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As discussed in the previous blog New York police are limited in the way they interact with civilians that they encounter on the street. If the police overstep their authority an experienced criminal defense attorney can use the police conduct to get evidence in a case suppressed.

Below are the four levels of intrusion as set forth by the New York Court of Appeals in Debour. Keep in mind that each case is an individual and may be affected by the minute details of the case.

Level 1 “Request for Information”: The police may approach a civilian when they have some articulable, objective credible reason for doing so even if that reason is not necessarily indicative of criminality. This is not equivalent to a stop. These encounters should be brief and not be harassing or intimidating. For example, approaching possible witnesses to a crime and checking to see if everyone involved in an accident is alright.
Level 2: “Common-Law Right to Inquire”: This is a greater level of intrusion that must be based upon a founded suspicion that criminal activity is afoot. Here, the officer’s questioning might lead a person to believe they are suspected of criminality.
Level 3: “Forcible Stop and Frisk”: The police may stop and frisk an individual when they have a reasonable suspicion that the individual has committed, is committing or is about to commit a crime (misdemeanor or felony). In such a situation, the police may frisk the individual if the officer reasonably suspects he is in danger because the individual is armed.
Level 4: “Arrest”: Of course, the most intrusive Level of a police encounter is an arrest. The police may arrest an individual when they have probable cause to believe that individual has committed a crime, whether in the officer’s presence or not, or an offense in his presence (See CPL 140.10).

If you have been charged with a crime, one the first areas your attorney should investigate is the legality of law enforcement’s stop and/or seizure of you or your vehicle. For more information, contact Tilem & Campbell toll free 1-877-377-8666 or visit us on the web at

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