In a possession of a controlled substance case, the court considered whether the police officers properly stopped and arrested the defendant for disorderly conduct. When the officers stopped the defendant, they found cocaine on his person, leading to a charge of possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree.
The events that eventually led to the defendant’s conviction on a drug charge started when the three police officers who were on patrol in an unmarked car observed the defendant running down a sidewalk and across a street into oncoming traffic. A couple of cars had to slow down as the defendant ran across the street in front of them. The officers decided to issue the defendant a summons for disorderly conduct because he ran across the street disrupting traffic. In other words, by running across the street into traffic, the police officers had concluded that the had reasonable cause to believe that the defendant was committed the crime of disorderly conduct. However, when they approached the defendant, they observed him clutching something in his waistband and feared that he had a weapon. The officers ordered the defendant to put his hands in the air, handcuffed him, and searched him. They discovered a knife in the defendant’s pocket along with 5 clear bags of cocaine. The defendant was eventually convicted of attempted possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree.
Under N.Y. Pen. Code § 240.20, a person is guilty of disorderly conduct when, with intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof he obstructs vehicular or pedestrian traffic. For the police to have found that there was reasonable or probable cause to stop and arrest the defendant, his actions must have led them to believe that the defendant was intentionally or recklessly creating a substantial risk that public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm would occur. The court found that merely causing 2 cars to momentarily slow down did not amount to disorderly conduct, but was only a momentary inconvenience at best. This was not sufficient to satisfy the public inconvenience or annoyance element.