Stop / Detention (Level 3)

What the police can do:

  • In a Level 3 encounter, a police officer may stop you and make it clear that you are not free to leave.  The officer then might proceed to take further investigative actions such as questioning or frisking
  • To initiate a Level 3 encounter, the officer must have a reasonable suspicion that you are committing, have committed, or are about to commit a felony or a misdemeanor in the NYS Penal Law.
  • 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.
  • If an officer reasonably believes you may be armed and dangerous, they can frisk your outer clothing to feel for weapons.
    • Just because the officer has the reasonable suspicion required to initiate the stop does not necessarily mean they can frisk you. 
    • For example, if the officer simply has a reasonable belief that you engaged in a shoplifting, which does not typically involve a weapon, the officer cannot frisk or search you for weapons without your consent unless there is some other reason the officer reasonably believes you are armed and dangerous.
  • During a frisk, if an officer feels an object that they reasonably believe could be a weapon, the officer can reach into your pocket/clothing to evaluate the object.

What you can do:

  • You can ask if you are under arrest or if you are free to leave.
    • The officer will tell you that you are not free to leave but that you are not under arrest.
  • You can tell the officer you would like to remain silent if you don’t want to answer the officer’s questions.
  • 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 stop, if you are not arrested or given a summons.