Law enforcement officers in New York have a reputation for problematic racial bias in the way that they approach criminal cases. Analysis of arrests made in the first decade of the twenty-first century found that over 5% of all criminal arrests in New York City occurred without adequate grounds for police interaction. Overall, the vast majority of people charged with crimes in New York are people of color.
Put more plainly, law enforcement officers in New York have a disturbing tendency to stop, search and arrest individuals based solely on their appearance. It is far too common for people who have done nothing wrong to find themselves facing serious criminal charges because law enforcement officers targeted them based on nothing other than their race or appearance.
If you believe racial profiling was a factor in your arrest and pending criminal charges, you should definitely consider discussing that concern with a criminal defense attorney sooner rather than later.
Vague descriptions and internal bias may both play roles in racial profiling cases
Unfortunately, while many people claim to be colorblind when it comes to other people, that is rarely the case. Individuals of all backgrounds, ages and races can have deep-set internal biases that they may not even realize they carry. That can lead to many problematic issues for law enforcement.
For example, people of one race may fail to notice unique identifiers if they experience a crime committed by someone of another race. They may only note general characteristics, such as race/skin color, hair color and style, clothing, height or weight. Unfortunately, that could mean that there are dozens, if not hundreds of individuals who fit the description of the suspect in the neighborhood at any given time.
Law enforcement officers may also project their own internal bias and prejudice on to the community. If, for example, there is a report over the radio of a recent mugging or theft at a store, officers may immediately begin targeting individuals as potential suspects, even before a description is available to them. People who are guilty of no crime could find themselves stopped and searched.
In some cases, if they don’t immediately comply with officers because they know their own innocence, they might eventually find themselves facing allegations of resisting arrest or impeding an active investigation. Officers can find a way to justify their arrest even if the person they stopped isn’t a criminal.
Racial profiling shouldn’t happen anymore
If you or someone you love is currently facing serious criminal charges because law enforcement engaged in the highly questionable practice of racial profiling, proving that racial profiling played a part in the arrest could help with your defense strategy.
The sooner you explore how the details of the law enforcement interaction led to criminal charges, the more time you will have to strategize before court. You could challenge certain evidence or even file an appeal in some cases.