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What constitutes a proper stop and frisk in New York?

Whether it is on the road or on the street, when residents in New York are stopped by the police, many questions run through his or her head. Why are they being stopped? What rights does the officer have? What defenses are available when an officer searches a vehicle or person and discovers drugs? Individuals facing drug charges after a stop and frisk should understand the laws that govern this act. This could help the accused with his or her defense and possibly reduce or drop the charges against them.

What constitutes a proper stop and frisk in the state of New York? According to New York's Criminal Procedure Law, section 140.50 authorizes police to stop an individual in a public place. When an officer stops a person in public and reasonably believes that the individual has committed, or is about to commit, a felony or a misdemeanor and the officer reasonably suspects that his or her life is in danger of physical injury, the officer may conduct a stop and frisk.

Why is a stop and frisk conducted? If there is probable cause that a stopped suspect may possess a weapon an officer, following the Fourth Amendment and New York Law, may frisk the suspect to properly ascertain whether the suspect does in fact have a weapon. If there is no probable cause, or if an officer does not properly conduct a stop and frisk, this could be considered an illegal search and seizure.

If an individual is accused of a drug crime following a stop and frisk, it is important to determine whether the procedure was properly conducted. If an officer fails to follow the rules and protocol, this could be used as grounds to dismiss evidence. This could help the defendant reduce or eliminate the charges against him or her.

Criminal charges such as drug charges could result in serious penalties. Because of this, those accused should understand the available criminal defense options. Questioning the procedures of a police officer could help a defendant with their defense, as well as protecting his or her rights and interests.

Source: Usccr.gov, "Police Practices and Civil Rights in New York City," accessed June 15, 2015

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