Police power is vast, but it comes with limits. When officers violate citizens’ rights and commit misconduct, we can hold them liable in civil and criminal courts. Sometimes, this includes constitutional violations or other police transgressions like abuse of authority or unreasonable search and seizure. When a police officer violates an individual’s constitutional right, the victim may file a civil lawsuit to receive money damages. Police officers are held accountable for their actions, whether they are on duty or off. Suppose the officer claims to have authority over you. In that case, it is still a crime if they violate your rights by using excessive force during an arrest, even if the incident occurs in his personal life and not while he’s wearing his uniform.
The laws are very different depending on the misconduct. There are various ways to seek justice for police misconduct, such as filing complaints with local departments and state or federal courts. The most common kinds of police misconduct include civil police misconduct, which comprises state agents depriving individuals of their rights under the U.S. Constitution or Federal Law, even if allowed by a local statute. Also, a police officer who violates criminal regulations can be guilty of a crime, even if they were acting in their official capacity. It’s termed criminal police misconduct. They may include extortion, bribery, sexual harassment, selling drugs, among others.
Steps to take if police violate your rights
Even if the police officer has done something illegal or wrong, they still have rights, just like anyone else. To file a complaint against police officers, one needs to file with the police department or internal affairs division. It would help if you tried all administrative remedies before going into court because, according to the law, you can’t go straight from one agency and turn it over directly in court without trying other measures first.
After you have reported to the police department, it’s time to reach out and report your concerns about misconduct in a federal agency. Next is filing an appropriate complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) or Office of U.S. Attorneys. Once the police department has been notified of the violation, a person may sue in court.
What damages should one expect?
Damages in a police misconduct lawsuit get awarded based on the severity of the misconduct and types of injuries suffered, including:
Aggravated damages: Here, the police conduct must be especially egregious to warrant aggravated damages, which are awarded where the officer’s behavior causes a person distress and humiliation.
Exemplary Damages: in these cases, the police conduct could be oppressive and unconstitutional. The aim of awarding exemplary damages is to deter future wrongdoing by acting as a warning against it.
Compensatory Damages are compensation for property damage, costs of medical care, loss of earnings if they have missed work because of an injury, and potential future loss in financial earnings.
Will one need help from the police filling for a police brutality case?
Yes, if you want to seek damages for injuries because of a violation from the police or criminal conduct, you must speak with an experienced defense lawyer immediately. Contacting an experienced and knowledgeable police brutality lawyer is the best way to claim that a police officer committed misconduct.