As a New York resident, you may benefit from learning more about the problems with qualified immunity, police misconduct, and protecting your civil rights. Recent studies show that the concept of qualified immunity is outdated and that police need to be incentivized to adopt practices that reduce excessive uses of force. Federal criminal and civil statutes protect all citizens from police misconduct committed by the state, county, and local officers, including jail and prison authorities.
Understanding qualified immunity
Qualified immunity is a defense that exists to eliminate the fear of legal prosecution inhibiting police officers from enforcing the law. As long as the officer’s conduct did not violate statutory, constitutional, or civil rights laws, qualified immunity is designed to protect the police department and its personnel. Police are immune from lawsuits for violating suspects’ rights unless they demonstrate willful, unreasonable conduct. In the most typical interaction, officers are actually immune from being sued by suspects.
Police misconduct and your civil rights
Negligence and breaching duty of care are not enough to overcome qualified immunity. However, willful conduct that violates someone’s constitutional rights may qualify for a civil remedy or criminal charges. Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871 outlines laws designed to curb oppressive behavior by the government or individuals participating in vigilante groups like the Ku Klux Klan.
Section 1983 makes it unlawful for anyone acting under the authority of state law to deny someone their constitutional rights, including excessive force, malicious prosecution, and false arrest. If you believe you’ve been victimized by police misconduct or had your rights violated by law enforcement officers, contact a lawyer today.