Police have stopped and frisked over 5 million people in New York since 2002. However, 90 percent of those people were totally innocent. In 2018, police have already stopped and frisked over 2,500 people in New York, and over 65 percent of them were innocent. Thousands of more people have been victims of a false arrest or false imprisonment. As a resident of New York, it is important to know your rights when the police stop you.
Stop and frisk:
A stop and frisk occurs when police temporarily detain a person to pat down their clothing. Police are required to have a reasonable suspicion that the person is armed with a violent weapon. In New York, reasonable suspicion only requires a police officer to think that a person is armed. While the purpose of a frisk should only be to search for dangerous weapons, law enforcement can seize drugs if they are “reasonably apparent” or easy to detect.
A police officer commits a false arrest by physically detaining someone without the legal authority to do so. Police have the legal authority to arrest you only if they have an arrest warrant or probable cause. Police must have probable cause to obtain an arrest warrant or to make an arrest, meaning there is a reasonable likelihood that a person committed a crime. If a police officer does not have probable cause or an arrest warrant, they likely committed a false arrest under New York state law.
False arrest is a type of false imprisonment. False imprisonment occurs when someone is illegally held captive against his or her will. Someone does not have to be a police officer to commit false imprisonment. For example, if a storekeeper or a security worker holds you in a store based on your appearance, they likely committed the crime of false imprisonment.
New York law places time restrictions on bringing a case for a wrongful stop and frisk, false arrest or false imprisonment. If you have been a victim of one of the previous acts, it is important that you take action before it is too late.