Have you been the victim of police misconduct or police brutality in or near the greater Philadelphia area? If you have been victimized by police misconduct or police brutality, a Philadelphia civil rights attorney can fight on your behalf for the justice you need and deserve.
It’s wrong, illegal, and without excuse, but police misconduct has a long history in Philadelphia and continues to be a problem. Even now, lawsuits charging police officers with misconduct and brutality are pending against the City of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Police Department.
What constitutes police misconduct? What recourse do the victims of police misconduct have? What steps will they have to take to win justice? If you’ll keep reading this brief discussion of police misconduct, police brutality, and victims’ rights, you will find the answers you may need.
However, if you are the person who has been victimized by the police, you need to speak with a Philadelphia civil rights lawyer as quickly as possible to receive personalized advice regarding your legal rights and your options for taking legal action.
What Should You Know About Police Brutality?
While law enforcement officers may legally use force when it’s called for, there is a legal limit to what is allowed. Even if you are placed under arrest for a crime you committed, you retain your legal and civil rights, and police officers are responsible for protecting those rights.
A police brutality charge may not be taken seriously by some, but most civil rights lawyers have seen the results of police violence, so if you have been a victim of police misconduct or brutality, promptly seek the advice of a Philadelphia civil rights attorney, and you will be taken seriously.
If you and your attorney agree to move forward with legal action, and if you prevail, you may recover monetary compensation for any medical costs related to the incident. In some police brutality cases, victims have also been awarded punitive damages.
What Are the Most Common Types of Police Misconduct?
Incidents of police misconduct are violations of the Federal Civil Rights Act, which establishes your right to sue and to recover damages from those who are responsible for police brutality or for any other civil rights violations.
Police misconduct may include but is not limited to threats, verbal abuse, assault, excessive force, racial discrimination, and sexual assault or abuse. The most frequent claims in civil lawsuits brought against law enforcement officials and police departments are claims for:
- False arrests: When police officers do not have probable cause to arrest someone, but they nevertheless make the arrest, it’s a false arrest. There must be sufficient evidence and facts for reasonable persons to agree that the arrest was legitimate.
- Malicious prosecutions: Malicious prosecutions are unwarranted actions taken by the government against someone – actions taken with no probable cause and for no good reason.
- Excessive use of force: When a law enforcement officer uses force excessively and without cause, that use of force may constitute police brutality and trigger not only a civil lawsuit, but in some cases, criminal charges against the police officer.
What Can Be the Consequences of a False Arrest?
A false arrest could be based on a false accusation, a mistaken identity, an illegal search and seizure, or even malicious intent by the police. An arrest remains on your record, where anyone conducting a background check may see it, and it must be expunged to clear it from your record.
A false arrest may also mean losing time from your job and paying bail to be released. A Pennsylvania civil rights attorney can help you seek monetary compensation – as well as justice – if you have been the victim of a false arrest.
What May Constitute Malicious Prosecution?
A malicious prosecution happens when a prosecutor takes an official action against someone while knowing that there is little or no evidence to justify that action, knowing that the testimony or evidence is unreliable or illegally obtained, or hiding evidence of the person’s innocence.
Sometimes, a malicious prosecution may occur after the police have wrongfully arrested someone. The victim of a wrongful arrest and/or malicious prosecution should speak at once with a Philadelphia civil rights lawyer about his or her legal options.
What Constitutes Excessive Force?
Police officers have a right to use force, including tasers, when necessary. However, the law prohibits police officers from using more than “reasonable” force. Excessive force claims may arise when police officers allegedly use more physical force than they need to control a situation.
Deadly force may be used by police officers only when they reasonably believe that they are imminently at risk for serious bodily injury or death. Deadly force may not be used merely because a suspect is fleeing.
To impose deadly force on a fleeing suspect without violating the law, a law enforcement officer must reasonably believe that the suspect presents an imminent and dangerous risk to the public.
What Can You Do to Help Your Own Case?
If you have been victimized by police misconduct or brutality, you can help your case by writing down everything you remember about the incident. If there were eyewitnesses, try to get their names and contact details.
Photos of property damage and your visible personal injuries are also helpful. If you were injured by the police and sought medical assistance, save the bills, receipts, and medical records. That paperwork may be important evidence that indicates police misconduct or brutality.
What Else Should Victims of Police Misconduct Know?
The vast majority of Pennsylvania’s police officers conduct themselves properly, but in Philadelphia and every other city, bad police officers work right alongside good officers.
As mentioned previously, police misconduct has a long history in Philadelphia and continues to be a problem. Police brutality was common in the 1960s and 1970s, and unfortunately, it has re-emerged in the 21st century. Our city needs to move past police misconduct – permanently.
If you have been a victim of police violence, taking legal action can help to reduce police violence in the future. When you take legal action in response to police misconduct – and you prevail – you will also be sending a message that police misconduct will not be tolerated.
As quickly as possible after an incident of police misconduct, put the matter in the hands of a Pennsylvania civil rights attorney who will aggressively and effectively advocate on your behalf.