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Defendant Contends Police Did Not Have Probable Cause for Stop


Four police officers in Manhattan were assigned to the Street Crime unit. They report for duty in plain clothes and they drive/ride in taxicabs around the city looking for crimes in progress.
ON December 10, 1982, two police officers were in a yellow cab near 115th Street around 5:00 p.m. They saw a car with three passengers going very slowly. A New York Drug Crime Lawyer said the police in the cab followed them for nearly two blocks before the police officer saw that the car had a busted tail light. The police officers drove up next to the car and flashed their police badges and identification and told the driver to pull over.

The three men in the car pulled over. The police officer approached and they noticed that the three men inside the car looked nervously around at the two police officers who approached the car at the two front doors of the car.

The police officer who was standing next to the driver’s door noticed a brown-paper wrapped package on the floor and asked the driver what was inside the package. A New York Drug Possession Lawyer said the driver answered that the brown-paper package contained glass panes which he had just bought. Next to the brown-paper package was a bag that was folded up. The police officer saw the folded-up bag and asked the driver to hand it over. The driver handed it over and the police officer saw that it contained cash. The police officer returned the bag to the driver.

The police officer testified at the grand jury that at that time, he noticed that the driver kept his left arm stiff and close to his body. The police officer asked the driver to step out of the car. As the driver was coming out of the car, the police officer thought he saw something protruding from the driver’s armpit. The other police officer patted down the driver but did not see anything protruding from his armpit. The police officer then searched the vehicle and found a gun.

The police officers testified before the grand jury and the grand jury returned an indictment for criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree. A Nassau County Drug Possession Lawyer said at the arraignment the defendant driver asked that the grand jury indictment be dismissed.

The driver testified during the motion hearing that the taillight of his car was not busted on December 10, 1982. There was no reason for the police I the unmarked car to stop him on the street. He also testified that the police officer could not have known that his taillight was busted because it was still not dark enough for him to turn his car lights on. A Queens Drug Possession Lawyer also did not have a bag of money although he did have about $3,000 of gambling winnings in his coat pocket at that time. He claims that the police officer had no probable cause to suppose that he was committing a felony at the time that he was pulled over by the police.

The only question before the motion court was whether or not the police had probable cause to stop the car, search the driver and the car and finally to arrest the driver. The motion court found that there was no probable cause. The People appealed the resolution of the trial court dismissing the grand jury indictment.

The only question before the Supreme Court is whether or not the motion court erred in dismissing the grand jury indictment on the ground that there was no probable cause for the police to stop the driver.

The Court found that there was no probable cause. The busted taillight which was the reason for the police officer to stop the car was not credible. First, as the driver asserted, at 5 p.m. the street was not dark enough for the driver to turn on his headlights. Thus the testimony of the police officer cannot be found credible for this reason. Also, if it were true that the driver’s car had a busted taillight, driving around with a busted taillight is hardly a felony for which the police officer should stop him. Another reason why the police officer’s testimony regarding the taillight cannot be believed is that the police officer did not issue the driver a ticket regarding his busted taillight. There was nothing in the arrest report regarding a busted taillight and there was no mention of it until the police officer began speaking to the district attorney.
Also, moving nervously does not give the police sufficient or reasonable suspicion to think that the crime of criminal possession of a weapon was being committed. Holding one’s left arm stiffly against one’s body does not give an sufficient or reasonable suspicion that the crime of possession of a weapon was being committed either. There was no reason for the police officer to stop the driver. Thus, all evidence seized consequent to the illegal stop should be suppressed.

A charge for criminal possession of a weapon is serious. You need the assistance and advice of a New York City Criminal Lawyer to make sure that you make full use of your day in court. A New York Criminal Attorney can advice you as to your rights and your options. If you want to plea bargain, you need to be represented by a NYC Criminal lawyer who can explain to you your options. Call Stephen Bilkis and Associates; ask to speak to any of their NY Criminal attorneys who are willing and ready to represent you. The officer of Stephen Bilkis and Associates are conveniently located in the New York area.

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