Every individual has rights when they come in contact with NY law enforcement officials, whether they are guilty of committing a crime or not, and it is important that everyone take the time to become more informed on what those rights are. In order to determine what your rights are, you need to be able to classify your encounter as a Level 1, Level 2, or Level 3 encounter [Source: City of New York]. Because most individuals are unaware of what the difference is between each level, we have outlined this information for you below.


  1. Level 1 Encounter
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If a NY police officer searched your belongings without a warrant during a Level 1 encounter, you should consider speaking with a police misconduct lawyer in your city as the officer may have violated your Constitutional rights.

This is where an officer has an “objective credible basis to approach you” and may request information from you such as:

  • Where are you going?
  • Where are you coming from?
  • Where do you live?


The officer may also ask that you provide him/her with identification, however, they may not “restrict your freedom of movement, detain [you], or search or frisk you.” During a Level 1 encounter, you are given the right to leave although officers are also not required to provide you with an explanation as to why they are questioning you nor do they have to offer you a business card although you can ask that one be provided.

Under the Right to Know Act which took effect as of October 19, 2018, officers are required to identify themselves in most circumstances and offer a business card that contains the following information:

  • Their name
  • Rank
  • Command
  • Shield number


If you feel a New York police officer was harassing you rather than making a minor inquiry during a Level 1 encounter, you can always speak with a NY police brutality lawyer who can help you file a complaint against the officer.


  1. Level 2 Encounter

A Level 2 encounter, which is referred to as a Common Law Right of Inquiry, is when an officer“has a founded suspicion of criminal activity happening.” They have the right to ask the following:


  • Do you have anything on you?
  • Are there any weapons in here?
  • Did you just buy drugs?


He/she may also ask for your consent to search you or even your vehicle. It is very important that you understand that during a Level 2 encounter, the officer is “not permitted to restrict your freedom of movement” and that “you are free to walk away” if you are not being detained. The best way to determine if you are being detained if by asking the officer if you are free to leave. If he/she doesn’t answer you and is persistent in asking you questions, you can continue to ask if you are free to go as sometimes, officers will attempt to abuse their power and continuously question an individual until they feel pressured into talking.

During a Level 2 encounter, police officers are expected to identify themselves, provide you with a reason for the encounter, and offer you a business card. They are also required to inform you that they can only conduct a search with your consent. If a NY police officer conducted a search on you or your property without your consent, they may have violated your Fourth Amendments rights and you likely have a viable case against them. To learn more about how you can combat this type of police misconduct, speak with a NY police brutality attorney in your city.


  1. Level 3 Encounter

A Level 3 encounter which is considered a Reasonable Suspicion to Stop, is when “an officer has reasonable suspicion that you have committed, are committing, or are about to commit a crime.” During this type of encounter, the officer can“restrict your freedom of movement, detain, and pursue you” as you are not free to leave. The officer, during this time, also has the right to frisk you and possibly even search you if he/she believes you may have a weapon in your possession.

During a Level 3 encounter, police officers must identify who they are and provide you with an explanation for why they are stopping you.

[Source: City of New York].

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If your encounter with a NY police officer was an unpleasant one and you wish to file a complaint against him or her, contact a police brutality attorney to find out how you can do this successfully.


If, at any point during your encounter with a NY police officer you feel the officer was out of line, violated your rights, or engaged in any other type of inappropriate behavior, you are urged to contact a NY police brutality lawyer who can help you make an informed decision on how to handle the matter. USAttorneys.com works with some of the best police misconduct lawyers in the state of NY who are willing and able to help you get through this confusing time.

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