Police officers in this country have broad powers to carry out their duties. The Constitution and other laws place limits on how far police can go in trying to enforce the law. As past experiences in New York involving Abner Louima and Patrick Dorismond have illustrated, police officers sometimes violate the rights of citizens. When this happens, the victim of the police misconduct may be able to bring a claim through federal and state laws. Various civil rights laws provide protection to citizens from abuses by government, including police misconduct. To read about WylieLaw's success with these kinds of cases, go to Decisions and Press.
Unlawful or False Arrests
An unlawful or false arrest:
Probable Cause is the reasonable belief that a person has committed, is in the process of committing, or is about to commit a crime.
The concept of Probable Cause and its requirements:
Defined as the unlawful confinement of a person without valid consent. An individual is unlawfully imprisoned when he/she has been:
Police in our society have a very difficult job. Most officers do their duty with regard to the law and the rights of individuals. However, there are times, in the line of duty, when officers commit egregious and illegal acts. Police brutality is defined as the use of excessive force in the line of duty. If you feel you have been a victim of police brutality, speak with an attorney immediately.
Malicious prosecution is a criminal prosecution that would never have been brought but for the failure of a government agent, a district attorney or police officer to properly conduct an investigation. A malicious prosecution claim asserts that the government agent wrongly deprived the victim of protections guaranteed by the 14th Amendment right to liberty.
A malicious prosecution claim has four elements.
As with false arrest, this claim will fail if the officer had probable cause to initiate criminal proceedings.
Other than an outright dismissal, any guilty plea, or even an ACD (adjournment in contemplation of dismissal) , will effectively forfeit all claims of unlawful arrest, unlawful imprisonment and malicious prosecution.
Being stopped and questioned by policeespecially if you believe
there is no probable causeis often an unsettling experience and
may give you reason to think you are being treated unlawfully. Allegations
of negligence or the failure to exercise reasonable and due care are insufficient
to find liability against a police officer. However, 42 U.S.C. §1983,
provides an avenue of redress into Federal Court. Historically, the law
was originally part of the Civil Rights Act of 1871, intended to curb
harmful, offensive and oppressive conduct by government and private individuals
participating in vigilante groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan. But today,
§1983 is used to sue for false arrests and malicious prosecution
as it makes it unlawful for anyone acting under the authority of state
law to deprive another person of his/her Constitutionally guaranteed rights.