People v. Peters

Criminal Practice

New York Law Journal


Judge John Wilson

Peters was charged with attempted resisting arrest, and possession of marijuana. Officers alleged they went to a building pursuant to a radio transmission regarding a group of people smoking marijuana in the lobby. A sergeant observed the people, but went further a few steps towards the first floor observing Peters with a small plastic ziplock. Peters began to run back upstairs and into an apartment, and police followed, barging into the apartment and arresting him, discovering marijuana. The officers conceded Peters resided in the apartment into which he ran. The court noted, the sergeant never stated he knew or believed the ziplock contained any contraband, finding he testified he approached and questioned Peters as he wanted a closer look at the ziplock bag. It ruled that while the ziplock may be commonly used in packaging marijuana, it could also be used for packaging non-contraband items. The court concluded Peters had a right to refuse to cooperate, including running away, and under the circumstances, the police chase was unjustified. As such, it ruled there was no probable cause for the warrantless arrest, nor any authority to chase Peters or enter his apartment. Thus, suppression was granted.

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