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Excessive Force and Your Rights: What You Should Know

This content about Excessive Force 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.

Under the tense social and political climate we currently live in, understanding your rights when having an encounter with law enforcement is a step toward ensuring their protection. Despite the honorable work of many police officers, there are others who use excessive force, which violates a person’s constitutional rights. To achieve a better understanding of excessive force, it’s important to get down to the details.

What excessive force means

The term excessive force, also known as police brutality, refers to a form of police misconduct. When attempting to defuse a situation, make an arrest, or protect others or themselves, officers are only allowed to use a reasonably necessary amount of force.

Additionally, the terms excessive force and police brutality apply to situations where the use of deadly force is unwarranted, and also when said excessive use of force results in serious injuries or death due to actions such as chokeholds, rubber bullets, and baton blows, among others.

Officers involved in California excessive force cases where there was use of deadly force can be charged with a crime. This is thanks to a fairly new legislation which changed the standard for the use of deadly force from “reasonable under the circumstances” to only when necessary.

Your rights

When officers use excessive force, they are violating your Constitutional rights. The Fourth Amendment states that you have the right to be protected from unreasonable search and seizure. Furthermore, the Eight Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishments. When there is use of deadly force, this can also violate the victim’s Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, given that the person would have been deprived of their life without due process of law.

Your legal options

When dealing with excessive force, there are several remedies you may pursue as a victim. Filing a complaint with the offending officer’s police department is one option, detailing exactly what occurred and demanding repercussions. However, you are also entitled to filing a civil rights lawsuit in California called a Section 1983 lawsuit.

This type of lawsuit can be filed by anyone whose civil rights were violated by someone acting “under color of law”. Nonetheless, this statute only protects federal rights, such as those in the Constitution, but not rights guaranteed by state law. These lawsuits can provide remedies such as compensation/monetary damages and injunctive relief.

Whichever remedy you decide to pursue, it is always wise to consult a skilled attorney specialized in civil rights or excessive force cases before making a decision.

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 about Excessive Force 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.