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Police misconduct covers an array of behavior by law enforcement that is in contravention of the police sworn duty to protect the public and the rights of individuals in the exercise of their duties. Police who commit misconduct can be subject to criminal prosecution and civil litigation.
Forms of Police Misconduct
Some major forms of police misconduct include:
- Abuse or brutality using excessive and unwarranted force to subdue or control a person, such as beating a suspect or using an illegal chokehold
- Planting, withholding, or destroying evidence
- Extorting money or sexual favors from citizens
- Using police authority to harass a suspect or other individual
- Racial profiling
- Failing to respond or intervene in a timely or appropriate manner in cases where the officer may lack respect or concern for certain individuals, as in domestic violence cases, rape cases, and cases involving homosexuals
As an agent of the government, or state, police in general are accorded immunity from civil action. For a victim of police misconduct to overcome the presumption of immunity, the alleged misconduct must be extreme or beyond what is considered reasonably acceptable, in violation of personal or civil rights, and resulted in injury or damage to the victim.
Are You a Police Officer Charged With Misconduct?
If you are an officer of the law criminally charged with misconduct or are being sued in a civil case, you will want to discuss your legal options with an attorney experienced in handling misconduct cases. Police found guilty of misconduct face possible imprisonment and expulsion from the police force or demotion in rank and may be exposed to civil liability.
Are You a Victim of Police Misconduct?
If you believe you have been the victim of police misconduct, meeting with a lawyer can help you decide how to proceed. You may want to press for criminal charges, file a civil lawsuit for damages or both. Cases against law enforcement often generate a lot of publicity and public interest and can result in millions of dollars in damages being awarded to victims. Do not be intimidated by police authority. Talk with an attorney to learn your rights and about compensation you may be entitled to.