At the end of October, it was reported that the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit granted a stay of a ruling from August in a case involving the "stop and frisk" procedures of the New York Police Department. The NYPD had come under scrutiny in recent months over the numbers of warrantless stops that officers were making in the city, and the issue had ended up in federal court. The three judges presiding in the Second Circuit ruled to issue a stay to an earlier decision to halt the NYPD's stop and frisk practices, thereby upholding the procedure for the time being.
Supporters of stop and frisk claim that it has been an effective measure for crime prevention, by catching perpetrators before they commit crimes. For example, police officers have been able to catch individuals carrying weapons or drugs on their person, some of whom may have been on their way to commit a violent crime or to sell drugs. On the other side of the issue are those for whom stop and frisk constitutes an encroachment on civil liberties and a direct violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, which states that:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
According to the New York Civil Liberties Union, there have been an estimated 4 million police stops and police interrogations in New York since 2002, and Latino and African Americans were selected for a disproportionate number of the stops.
Robert Schuster of The Law Offices of Robert Schuster is a former district attorney with a track record including thousands of cases, and he has extensive familiarity with the tactics used by law enforcement in New York. Weighing in on the matter, Mr. Schuster had this to say:
As in any situation where the Constitutional rights of Americans are in question, I am deeply concerned that the NYPD may be encroaching upon those rights. Further, we have to take stock of the fact that allowing the police in New York to engage in warrantless searches and without probable cause on a mass basis could set a precedent for law enforcement agencies in other areas of the nation to follow. Fortunately, the Second Circuit's ruling to uphold the stop-and-frisk practices in New York does not necessarily prevent these tactics from being challenged on a case-by-case basis. Whenever I find that a client of mine has been arrested under circumstances that constitute a violation of the Fourth Amendment, I am ready to fight to defend my client's rights and to uphold the Constitutional protections which we all enjoy.
If you have been charged with a crime after being arrested during a stop and frisk in New York, contact The Law Offices of Robert Schuster now for an initial consultation to discuss the case and determine whether you may have been a victim of a Fourth Amendment violation or racial profiling.