Filing a Complaint for Police Misconduct in California
Most people in California trust that every law enforcement officer uses their authority to serve and protect your community. But what happens when an officer illegally takes advantage of their power? If the case arises, then you have the right to report their police misconduct in California.
Proving police misconduct can be a difficult – and even scary – task. Your integrity might be questioned, but reporting this sort of wrongful behavior is necessary to stop this conduct from happening.
Here is what you need to know.
As with any other claim or legal action, it’s essential that you present valid proof, whether you’re planning to sue or not, even if you weren’t arrested. A video or audio recording of the police misconduct incident is a great way to present proof. Witnesses are another way. Photographs of your injuries also help. So does medical documentation.
As soon as you can, write in detail about what happened to show to a lawyer at some point. Try describing the event as clearly as possible, with as many details as you can remember. If there’s something you have trouble remembering, try asking some witnesses.
Some important details you should write down are:
- A physical description of the police officer
- The officer’s badge numbers and car numbers
- A description, location, and time of day of the incident
- Date and time of your own records
Filing a Complaint about Police Misconduct in California
A complaint can be filed in person at any police facility in Los Angeles, Internal Affairs Group, the Police Commission, or the Office of the Inspector General. Although it is not required, the Department encourages community members to make these reports in person so a supervisor has an opportunity to do a thorough initial assessment of your complaint.
If you do not wish to report your complaint in person, you may obtain a “Complaint of Employee Misconduct” form from any police facility or City Council field office. Complaints may also be filed online by clicking here.
If you prefer to make your complaint by phone, you may call our 24-hour toll free hotline at (800) 339-6868.
Anonymous and third-party complaints are also accepted and will be investigated to the extent that sufficient information is provided. However, if you choose to not provide your contact information, the investigators will be unable to ask you follow-up questions that might be needed for a thorough, complete investigation.
Finally, as with any potential legal dispute, you may want to contact a police misconduct attorney or a police abuse attorney. A more common way of referring to such an attorney is “civil rights attorney.”
Sources of law in California
The Constitution of California is the foremost source of state law. Legislation is enacted within the California Statutes, which in turn have been codified into the 29 California Codes. State agencies promulgate regulations with the California Regulatory Notice Register, which are in turn codified in the California Code of Regulations.
California’s legal system is based on common law, which is interpreted by case law through the decisions of the Supreme Court of California, California Courts of Appeal, and Appellate Divisions of the Superior Courts of California, and published in the California Reports, California Appellate Reports, and California Appellate Reports Supplement, respectively (among others).
Counties and incorporated cities may promulgate local ordinances which are usually codified in county or city codes, respectively. There are also several sources of persuasive authority, which are not binding authority but are useful to lawyers and judges insofar as they help to clarify the state of the law.
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.