Section 1983 — originally included in the Civil Rights Act of 1871 — is the most important statute that protects the victims of police misconduct. Now, it is featured as Title 42 in the United States Code. This law says that it is unlawful for police officers to deprive individuals of their Constitutional rights or the rights afforded them under federal law.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common types of police misconduct cases brought forward under Section 1983:
— False arrest: False arrest refers to unreasonable detainment and/or seizure. Police are only permitted to detain an individual if they have probable cause to suspect that the person committed a crime. If the officer did not have probable cause, which will need to be shown in court, then a claim of false arrest may be made.
— Malicious prosecution: Malicious prosecution refers to someone being deprived of his or her Fourteenth Amendment rights. This may involve an individual being prosecuted out of malice and not for any legitimate reason.
— Excessive force: Police are only permitted to use a level of force against another person that is reasonable given the circumstances. As soon as the level of force exceeds the level of reasonableness, it becomes excessive and victims of excessive police force may be able to seek justice and restitution in court.
— Failure to intervene: This refers to officers turning a blind eye to police misconduct. If an officer witnesses another officer violating someone’s constitutional rights, the officer has a legal duty to intervene and stop the violation from happening. Failure to intervene could make the officer liable to the victim.
There are other situations that might present themselves in a police misconduct case. If you suspect that you were victimized by police misconduct in New York, a lawyer who works in the fields of civil rights and personal injury law may be able to help.
Source: FindLaw, “Police misconduct and civil rights,” accessed Jan. 13, 2017