Bronx Criminal Defense Attorney Delmas A. Costin, Jr. discusses police misconduct

While police officers have a broad range of powers to carry out their job duties, the Constitution and other laws put limits on how far police officers can go in enforcing the law. A key purpose of America’s civil rights laws is to protect American citizens from government abuses, which includes police misconduct.

Police misconduct and brutality may take on many different forms, and could include:

  • Threats and intimidation
  • Verbal attacks
  • Physical assault
  • The inappropriate use of excessive force

Actions of police misconduct and police brutality can happen at the hands of various kinds of law enforcement officials, including:

  • Local police
  • Sheriff officers
  • Prison guards
  • Corrections officers
  • Federal agents

Victims of police misconduct primarily rely upon federal statute Section 1983 in their lawsuits against police and other government enforcement officers. Section 1983 makes it illegal for someone acting under state law authority to deprive another person of his or her civil rights as provided by either the Constitution or federal law. The three most common legal claims brought against government law enforcement officers are false arrest (or false imprisonment), malicious prosecution, and use of excessive or unreasonable force.

1. False Arrest

The most common claim file against police or other law enforcement officers is false arrest. Victims allege that law enforcement officers violated their Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable seizure. To succeed on a claim of false arrest, victims must show that the arresting officer did not have probable cause, or sufficient facts to cause a reasonable person to believe that a crime had occurred.

2. Malicious Prosecution

Claims for malicious prosecution asserts that the law enforcement officers wrongfully deprived the victims of their Fourteenth Amendment right to liberty. To succeed on this legal claim, the victim must establish four elements:

  1. The defendant law enforcement officer started a criminal proceeding;
  2. The criminal proceeding ended favorably for the victim (the victim was not convicted);
  3. The law enforcement officer had no probable cause; and
  4. The criminal proceeding against the victim was brought with malice.

As with false arrest, this claim will fail if the officer had probable cause to initiate criminal proceedings.

3. Excessive Force

This category of claims, in particular, receives the most public attention, possibly because the results of excessive force appear to be the most outrageous, including serious physical injury or even death. To determined if the law enforcement officer used reasonable or excessive force depends on the surrounding circumstances and facts of the victim’s case.

Do you believe that you have suffered police abuse? If so, you need the skills and talent of an experienced Bronx criminal defense attorney like Delmas A. Costin, Jr. If you are dealing with police abuse, please call skilled Bronx criminal defense attorney Delmas Costin at (718) 618-0589.

The Law Office of Delmas A. Costin, Jr.
177 E. 161st St.
Bronx, NY 10451
(718) 618-0589 (Office)
(347) 510-0099 (Fax)