Over the past few years, with the widespread use of cameras on smartphones, problems with police departments all over the nation have been uncovered. While many of these issues have existed for years, they have been exposed by the widespread use of these new video techniques. As a consequence, many people have turned to help from police misconduct attorneys and civil rights attorneys. When you have a run in with the police, they have the upper hand in that instance but this does not mean you do not have the rights afforded to you by the United States Constitution.
What is police misconduct?
The term itself refers to any actions made by law enforcement officials that violate a person’s civil rights. Law enforcement officials are given a lot of authority, and they need that to effectively do their jobs, but sometimes they overstep their authority and violate people’s rights. They do this by conducting improper searches of property and individuals, making false arrests, forcing confessions, harassing individuals and putting people in jail under false pretenses. Other times, the police misconduct comes as a result of their laziness. Sloppy police work can be considered to be police misconduct. Any time you suspect you have been a victim of this, you should seek out a police misconduct or police brutality attorney.
What should I do if I have been a victim?
There are a few ways to go about reporting instances of police misconduct. Often the law enforcement agency that you are accusing of this problem will have a department set up for complaints like yours. You should also be able to report them to their internal affairs department. Neither of these options will result in you being awarded any damages or receiving any compensation.
The only way to get any monetary damages from an incident of police misconduct is to sue the law enforcement agency. This is the best way to receive money for damages and hold the people who perpetrated the police misconduct accountable for their actions.
What can I do to bolster my case?
- Keep records. Write down the details as soon as you can. Keep a list of the people who witnessed the police misconduct, if anyone did, and get them to write down what they saw and heard. If you were arrested, get the report from the police.
- Get the officer’s name. Whenever you are stopped by law enforcement, it is always a good idea to ask their name. You need to be polite when you do this but you need to know who you are dealing with. Later, you should find out which agency they have been assigned to, where they work and you should get as much information on them as you can.
- Take photos and video. If any video was taken of the incident, see if you can get it. When you get a police misconduct or police brutality lawyer, they will be able to use any video of photographic evidence that you collect to bolster your case.
- Decide what you want to accomplish. Do you want an apology? Do you want the offending officer to be fired? Do you need to collect monetary damages for lost wages? There are a number of things you can accomplish with a civil rights lawsuit against a law enforcement agency. It is important to know what your goals are. When you are talking to your police brutality attorney, you should make these clear.
- Do not think your civil case will impact any criminal case or charges against you. This means, you will not be retaliated against because of your lawsuit, that would be another charge of police misconduct. Do not plead to any charges or do anything without talking to a criminal defense lawyer. You may be intimidated and scared but you should not plead your case this way.
- Comply with the officer’s requests. Even if they are in the wrong, you can pick up more charges if you do not listen to their instructions. You will have your time to deal with their misconduct but it is not in the middle of the incident in question.