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What are factors in a criminal case for police misconduct?

The term police misconduct includes acts that are unethical or illegal as well as acts that violate an individual's rights. As a victim of police misconduct, it is your right to pursue compensation and to fight in court against those who try to take away your rights.

There is a problem in many criminal cases, though, in that the government has to prove that misconduct occurred beyond a reasonable doubt. The government has to prove that:

  • The defendant acted willfully in taking away or attempting to take away your rights
  • The defendant deprived you of your rights as protected by the laws of the United States or the Constitution
  • The defendant was acting as an officer of the law at the time of the violation

If the government is able to prove that misconduct took place, then it's possible that the defendant could be charged and convicted of a felony. To make the crime a felony, it has to be shown that the officer used or tried to use explosives, fire or dangerous weapons. It may also be a felony if the victim suffered a physical injury or if the defendant acted out in an attempt to murder, kidnap or sexually abuse the victim. A victim's death is also a factor that leads to a felony. If the above factors do not play a role in the case, then the officer who committed misconduct can face a misdemeanor only.

Our webpage has more on police misconduct and what you can do to protect yourself and assert your rights if you have been victimized.

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