Police officers are generally seen as the keepers of the peace and beacons of justice, but even these prestigious men and women are subject to breaking the law occasionally. When a police officer uses his or her position of authority to commit civil rights violations, there is legal recourse for victims. Although the road is complex and challenging, victims can pursue a lawsuit against the police.
Civil Rights Violations and Police Misconduct
A statute called Section 1983 protects citizens from civil rights violations, oppressive conduct and brutality at the hands of authorities. The law explicitly prohibits any person from using their legal authority to deprive another individual of his Constitutional rights. This section is most frequently cited against law enforcement officers who have acted outside of the reasonable scope afford to them by law against people suspected of crimes. Common causes for a lawsuit against an officer include:
- False imprisonment
- Malicious prosecution
- Excessive or unreasonable use of force
- Failure to intervene
False arrest occurs when a person’s right against unreasonable seizure as provided in the Fourth Amendment is violated. The victim must prove that the officer never had a reasonable suspicion or reason to believe a crime was committed when the arrest occurred. Malicious prosecution happens when an officer wrongly deprives a person to liberty by charging them of a crime that they were later acquitted of. The charges must have been brought with malicious intent by the officer. Excessive force occurs when the officer’s amount of force against a suspect are unreasonable. Finally, a failure to intervene happens when one officer fails to intervene to protect a victim when another officer is violating their rights.
Pursuing a Lawsuit Against the Police
Pursuing a lawsuit against the police is challenging for a number of reasons. The burden of proof is most often on the victim’s shoulders, and they are fighting against an entire system that is biased towards police officers. Some factors that make these lawsuits more difficult include:
- Qualified immunity: This defense suggests that an officer working within the scope of his authority cannot be sued for his actions.
- Claims against the police are often expensive
- The victim must collect evidence to prove the misconduct
- Complaints against a department may be hindered or obstructed by other law enforcement officers seeking to protect their own
Contact an Experienced Voorhees Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Police Brutality Case in New Jersey or Pennsylvania
Were your civil rights violated by police in New Jersey or Pennsylvania? The consequences of a false conviction could be severe, leaving you with a permanent criminal record and possibly even sending you to jail. That is why you need to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your case. The attorneys at Garber Law have successfully represented victims of police brutality and civil rights violations in Voorhees and throughout New Jersey. Contact us at (856) 281-1480 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team. We have an office conveniently located at The Greens of Laurel Oak, 1200 Laurel Oak Road, Suite 104, Voorhees, NJ, as well as offices located in Aramark Building, 1101 Market Street, Suite 2820, Philadelphia, PA.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.