If you come in contact with the NYPD, the first thing you should do is begin recording the encounter.
Before you answer any questions, ask the officer “Am I free to go?“ Police are required to let you go if they have no reasonable suspicion. Repeat the phrase as needed.
Since it is unlikely that they will let you go without questioning, it is essential that you know your rights, especially if you’re a person of color. Police have arrests quotas to meet, Do Not Assume that just because you did nothing wrong, you won’t be arrested.
The NYPD often use certain tactics to make a person incriminate them self. You are required by law to; show them your government-issued I.D. if asked, tell them your D.O.B., address and name. Unless you are telling the police one of the three or asking if you are free to go, DO NOT SPEAK TO THEM.
Some police will be intimidated if they recognize that you know your rights and will let you free at this point, especially if you are recording them.
Marijuana Related Encounters
I am including this because a majority of stop and frisk arrests are for marijuana-related offenses.
NYC is the marijuana arrest capital in the world, even though possession under 25 grams is decriminalized in the city (New York Penal Law Section 221.05).
Unlawful possession of marijuana is classified by our legislature as a violation. A violation is the legal equivalent of a traffic ticket.
The reason why hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers (mainly POC) are arrested for marijuana possession is because police convince them to take the marijuana out in public and arresting the person with “public possession”. This is why they ask you to empty your pockets (which you do not have to do).
Police cannot search your pockets, unless you are being detained. If an officer asks if they can search your belongings or pockets, tell them “I do not consent to a search”. The NYPD can frisk you ONLY if they have reasonable suspicion.
Police may frisk you without reasonable doubt, do not resist (you can be charged with resisting). If they find marijuana on you, you cannot be legally arrested for public possession. You may be charged with possession of marijuana and given a ticket (but I honestly never heard of this). Police may try to falsify a report and say you took the marijuana out in public view and arrest you. This is why you should video/audio record your encounter. If you have proof of misconduct you can sue the police department.
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