While stop-and-frisk laws have changed to combat unfair and illegal profiling, New Yorkers have seen the shaky practice rise.
Recent research indicates that fewer than half of stops happen unlawfully. That makes understanding the legality and potential for an arrest even more important.
The definition of a stop and frisk
When any police officer engages with a person in the community in an official capacity, they must have reasonable suspicion to do so. Even a request for information or common-law inquiry may lead to officers thinking they have a good reason to pat a person down. A stop occurs when an officer believes a person has or may have committed a crime. Although not under arrest at that time, officers may conduct a frisk if they believe a person has a weapon.
The potential for an illegal arrest
During the frisk, even if an officer finds no weapon, they may find illegal contraband on a person, such as narcotics or paraphernalia. If that happens, it may lead to an arrest that has nothing to do with why a person was initially stopped.
The importance of seeking legal help
This type of situation comes with many nuances. Although officers may have found items that show the necessity of an arrest, the legality comes with significant complexity. Police officers must file strict rules when stopping and frisking a person, and the prosecution must prove the officers followed protocol. Getting a defense lawyer immediately after the incident increases the chances of evidence illegally obtained getting deemed inadmissible.
When faced with this situation, do not consent to a frisk but cooperate with the officer to avoid escalating the situation.