Law enforcement personnel have some of the most difficult jobs in the country. Their sacrifice is not to be taken for granted or minimized. Unfortunately, many people still experience police misconduct every day. Victims of police misconduct must choose carefully how to pursue justice when they suffer unfairly at the hands of those who are sworn to protect and serve.
If you have suffered from police misconduct, it is important for you to fight for fair compensation. When you stand up and refuse to be mistreated by police or other law enforcement personnel, you are not only standing up for yourself. You are standing up for the rights of everyone who interacts with police on a daily basis.
Police misconduct takes many forms
Broadly speaking, police misconduct breaks down into four categories: excessive force, failure to intervene, false arrest, and malicious prosecution.
Excessive force receives the most attention in the public eye, likely because it most often results in physical harm to victims. Excessive force occurs when an officer uses an unwarranted amount of force or violence to resolve a conflict or subdue a person in an altercation. An officer's intentions are not the most relevant factor when a court deliberates over whether excessive force occurred.
If, for instance, an officer may not have intended anything malicious, he or she can still be found guilty of excessive force. Similarly, if the officer does have malicious intent, a court may still rule that the amount of force was justified, including use of deadly force. Excessive force is not necessarily police brutality.
If an officer of the law observes another officer violating someone's rights, he or she has a duty to stop the violation. In instances where one officer uses excessive force or falsely arrests an individual, and another officer observes but does not intercede, that officer who "looks the other way" may be held liable for failing to intervene.
Some kinds of police misconduct do not cause immediate physical harm, but are still serious and should be treated as such. There are certain procedures that must be followed by police officers when they make an arrest, or the arrest may be deemed invalid.
If you believe that you are the victim of false arrest, you can fight the charges. You will need to prove that the arresting officer did not have sufficient evidence to make the arrest. Fighting false arrests is important, especially for people who are routinely arrested on flimsy grounds and face high rates of incarceration.
The final form of police misconduct is malicious prosecution. These claims are filed following criminal proceedings that were ruled in the victim's favor. In such a case, the victim must demonstrate four separate elements of misconduct.
- That the officer in question initiated the criminal proceeding
- That the case did not end in conviction for the victim
- The officer in question had no probable cause to initiate the proceeding
- The officer initiated the proceeding with malicious intent (a personal vendetta or other sinister motive)
Police often file charges of resisting arrest, disorderly conduct or assault on a peace officer, in part to deflect attention from their own misconduct and in part to negate civil lawsuits. A civil rights lawyer will know how to deal with trumped-up charges and other defenses.
Don't wait to get the help you need
If you are the victim of misconduct, you deserve to begin your fight for fair compensation and justice immediately. Not only should you not have to wait to see a fair outcome, there is also a statute of limitations for filing police misconduct claims.
Fighting for your rights is a crucial part of the American judicial system and helps keep the things fair for everyone, not only yourself. If you are ready to begin a strong defense against mistreatment at the hands of law enforcement, do not hesitate to seek the representation of an experienced attorney.