Tuesday, June 11, 2013

When Can a Policeman Commandeer Your Vehicle? What About Sherlock Holmes?

James Daily, guest-blogging at Volokh, takes a quick look at the law of commandeering:

We’re all familiar with the trope: a police officer finds himself or herself in need of a vehicle and so announces to the driver that they are commandeering it for police use. But what is the legal basis for this, particularly in New York? [...]

One basis for this might be N.Y. Penal Law § 195.10, which makes it a misdemeanor to refuse to aid a police officer when commanded to reasonably aid the officer in effecting an arrest or to prevent the commission of a crime. It has been argued that such statutes are actually unconstitutional, though they have a history in English law dating back to at least the thirteenth century. Jon C. Blue, High Noon Revisited: Commands of Assistance by Peace Officers in the Age of the Fourth Amendment, 101 Yale L.J. 1475 (1992). However, twenty-one years after Judge Blue’s essay was published, § 195.10 remains on the books and apparently undisturbed, if little used these days.

Steve Clowney


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