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Common types of Police Misconduct

When it comes to police misconduct, most people seek to make claims or sue the police because they’ve been wrongly arrested, assaulted by a police officer, or prosecuted for something they didn’t do. While these are some of the most often filed cases, there are other reasons why you might want to consider legal action to sue the police.

Here are some things you should know about these kinds of actions:

Wrongful Arrest

Known as “false arrest” “unlawful arrest” or “false imprisonment,” this refers to an unlawful arrest or detention. When making an arrest and detention, the police must always justify the reason behind it, so if you believe they’ve acted outside their powers, it’s worthwhile getting further advice on the matter.

False imprisonment can happen in any place where the police control your freedom – it can be on the street, in your home, in a police vehicle, and of course at the police station.


Assault covers much more than what many think. Whenever someone touches you offensively, without your permission, and without a lawful reason to do so, you are being assaulted. Putting you in fear of unlawful violence, even without touching – such as by a gunpoint, can also be considered assault.

People often talk about assault and battery together.  Battery, of course, includes kicking and punching, as well as being subjected to illegal body searches. It’s important that you or a friend try to get the names and contact information for any witnesses, take photos of any injuries, and have a doctor check you (at a hospital or by your family doctor) right away If the police ever assault you.

Malicious Prosecution

If you’re ever prosecuted for something you didn’t do, and the police maliciously provided false or materially incomplete information to cause your prosecution, this is called “malicious prosecution.” You’ll have to present proof that the police had a “wrongful motive” in doing so, and didn’t have reasonable cause to prosecute you.

To win your civil case, you first have to win your criminal case.  You generally need to either have any charges dropped before the case goes to court, or be acquitted (found not guilty) in court at your trial or on appeal.

Other Claims

Police misconduct lawsuits can also be filed if they breach your right to protest, or any other human right; this can include – but is not limited to – physical harassment and abuse, wrongfully causing physical or mental injury, property damage, and death.

You can also sue the police for negligence, race, sex, disability, or other discrimination, speech and viewpoint retaliation, and other civil wrongs.

There are some cases where you won’t be able to file a lawsuit for police misconduct. Depending on the laws of your state, some things could be allowed while others not. You must find professional advice to help you navigate your options to find the best way for you to present your case.

Haddad & Sherwin LLP has a long, successful track record winning wrongful death and other serious civil rights claims for police and jail officer misconduct, throughout Northern and Central California.  Call or email us for a free consultation.

This content was written by a third party and does not represent the views or opinions of Haddad & Sherwin LLP, nor should it be construed as a complete and accurate statement of the law or as legal advice.  For better information about this topic, please contact Haddad & Sherwin LLP.