Today, a federal judge in Manhattan handed down an important ruling by declaring unconstitutional the NYPD’s “Trespass Affidavit Program” for private residential buildings in New York City. This program was also referred to by the Department as “Operation Clean Halls”. The judge declared that the program and the Department’s policy and lax training essentially caused police officers to stop and frisk people entering, leaving, and walking the halls of private residential buildings without any cause to do so. Indeed, the NYCLU, who spear-headed the case, managed to successfully demonstrate that the Department had been systematically searching persons without any suspicion of illegal activity and sometimes even arresting wholly innocent individuals solely because they were inside of or around buildings that voluntarily participated in the program.
Hopefully, this decision leads to further curtailing of unconstitutional stop-and-frisk policies enacted by the NYPD, either through voluntary changes by the NYPD or further court decisions on the constitutionality of similar policies.
Interestingly, this decision may make it easier for people to succeed and win solid settlements in lawsuits against the City stemming from false trespass arrests. The Bronx District Attorney’s Office, for example, recently changed its policy on the prosecution of these matters, and as a result, a large number of people falsely arrested recently for “trespassing” have had their cases “DP’d”, or dismissed as a result of the District Attorney’s Office decision to “decline prosecution”. What many of these individuals that were released by the prosecutor might not realize is that they can win significant settlements for these false arrests, depending upon the length of time that they were unconstitutionally held against their will by the police.
If you or a loved one have been falsely arrested for allegedly trespassing, you should strongly consider pursuing a lawsuit with the assistance of an experienced civil rights attorney. Contact one today for a free initial consultation to see whether you might be entitled to a cash settlement from the City.