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Accusatory Questioning (Level 2)

What the police can do:

  • In a Level 2 encounter, an officer may ask accusatory questions
  • The officer’s reasoning for questioning you must be based on something more than a hunch or a gut feeling. For Level 2, the officer must have a reason to think that suspicious or unusual activity is taking place that could be criminal. Examples of accusatory questions include: 
    • Do you have anything on you that could hurt me?
    • Are there any weapons in here?
    • Did you just buy drugs?
  • The officer should identify themselves and give an explanation for the encounter, such as that the police received information from an anonymous caller about drug dealing at that particular location, with descriptions of the people involved.
  • An officer may ask you for ID, but you are not required to provide it.
  • An officer may ask you to remove your hands from your pockets, keep your hands in view, or put down an object in order to ensure their safety during the interaction.
  • The officer can also ask for consent to search you or your belongings.
    • The officer must inform you that the officer may only conduct a search if you consent to the search. Your refusal to consent may not be used against you or serve as the basis for an arrest.
  • Officers are not allowed to detain, frisk, or search you without your consent.
  • Unless the officer is responding to an emergency situation, engaging in undercover activity, or performing certain bag checks, the officer must offer you a business card with their name and shield number on it at the end of the encounter, if you are not arrested or given a summons.

What you can do:

  • You can ask if you are under arrest or if you are free to leave
    • The officer must then tell you that you are not under arrest and are free to leave, and you can do so.
  • If the officer asks for consent to search you, you can refuse consent to the officer frisking you, “patting you down,” or searching. You can do this by saying, “I do not consent to a frisk or search.
    • If a police officer asks to search something of yours that you do not want searched, such as a purse, bag, pocket, or phone, and they do not have a search warrant to search it, you can say “I do not consent to this search.”
    • Police cannot arrest or ticket you simply for refusing to consent to a search.
  • If police start to search something of yours without a search warrant or your consent, do not attempt to stop them. You can be arrested for this.  (See “General Tips” section.) Try to remain calm and mentally note what occurs so that you can write it down. You can file a complaint with the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) after the interaction has ended.
  • If a police officer asks you a question and you do not want to answer, you may exercise your right to remain silent by telling the police, “I am remaining silent,” or “I am not going to answer your question.” 
  • You can ask for the officer’s business card. (Unless the officer is responding to an emergency situation, engaging in undercover activity, or performing certain bag checks, the officer is required to offer you a business card at the end of the encounter even if you do not ask for one, if you are not arrested or given a summons.)