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How to Legally Act Against Police Brutality and Misconduct

This content about Police Brutality 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.

It seems like every other day there is a new high-profile case involving some form of police brutality or misconduct in the United States. While most police officers take their jobs very seriously displaying ethical behavior in accordance with their codes of conduct and the law, it is an unfortunate fact that this is not always the case.

Police officers are not above the law, however, and recent changes in California state laws have made it more difficult for cops to get away with actions such as unreasonable use of deadly force. If you suspect you were a victim of police brutality, or if you’ve lost a loved at the hands of overzealous law enforcement officers, you should know that there are plenty of legal options you can pursue.

Filing an internal complaint

Police departments have procedures in place to take complaints from civilians about officers. These complaints are often called internal affairs complaints. Like any other option, it has its pros and cons. On one hand, a complaint notifies the police department of an officer’s behavior, which they might be unaware of. This can lead to the officer’s suspension, termination, or another form of reprimand. However, this option does not result in any monetary compensation for the victim or in any legal repercussions for the police officer.

Filing a criminal complaint

Federal laws that govern police misconduct include both criminal and civil statutes. It is a crime for a person to deprive another of any rights protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States while acting under color of law (18 U.S.C. §§ 241, 242). These laws cover forms of police brutality such as excessive use of force, sexual assault, willful false arrest, fabrication of evidence, among others.

Since these are criminal statutes, an officer may face fines or imprisonment. Nonetheless, you cannot file these actions on your own and criminal charges against officers are rare. Prosecutors will only tend to take the case if the misconduct or form of police brutality was outrageous and if they believe that there is damning evidence that can lead to a conviction.

Civil suits in police brutality cases

Civil suits offer great advantages for victims of police brutality. One of them is that you get to work with a lawyer who can represent your interests in court. This means that as a client, you get to consult with your attorney on what claims to bring and whether you wish to settle. In a civil suit, you can demand an injunction and/or monetary damages.

Achieving an injunction can keep the police brutality or other forms of misconduct from happening in the future. On the other hand, money damages can be very helpful to victims of police brutality who suffered injuries and have outstanding medical bills or who wish to receive therapy for the psychological trauma that the ordeal caused.

Find a California police brutality lawyer

Consulting your case with a local lawyer is extremely useful when deciding to take legal action against police brutality. California’s state statutes offer a variety of legal resources for you as a victim, including several types of civil rights lawsuits such as a Section 1983 Claim and a Bivens Claim. If a loved one has passed as a direct result of police brutality, you may be able to sue for wrongful death. Whichever the case, do not hesitate to contact a skilled attorney as soon as possible.

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 Police Brutality 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.