NYLJ: ‘DeBour’ Faces Increased Criticism: Where Do We Go From Here?

NYLJ: ‘DeBour’ Faces Increased Criticism: Where Do We Go From Here? By Barry Kamins:

In this article on Criminal Law and Procedure, Barry Kamins looks at criticism of ‘People v. DeBours,’ the case establishing the level of intrusion allowed during police encounters with citizens.

For the first time in its 42-year-old history, People v. DeBour (40 N.Y.2d 210) is facing divergent criticism from members on the New York Court of Appeals, as well as a report issued by a committee of prosecutors at the New York State Bar Association. In recent decisions, two jurists have questioned whether DeBour’s framework sufficiently protects a citizen who chooses to remain silent during a police encounter, thus invoking the right to be left alone. Another jurist has opined that DeBour’s “hyper stringent” structure is too technical and undermines the goal of public safety.

In DeBour, the New York Court of Appeals announced that New York courts must now assess the propriety of street encounters that do not rise to the level of a seizure for purposes of the Fourth Amendment. To this day, New York remains the only state to regulate such encounters in this fashion.

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