What is the Law Enforcement Misconduct Statute?

The federal criminal statute, 18 U.S.C. § 242, enforces constitutional limits on conduct by law enforcement officers. It stipulates that whoever willingly subjects any person to the deprivation of any privileges, rights, or immunities provided and secured by the laws of the United States shall be guilty of a crime.

The statute protects all people in the United States from police misconduct. Nonetheless, despite the clearly defined laws, police officers often subject civilians to various instances where they deprive them of their rights through police misconduct or brutality. Civil rights advocates in Philadelphia discuss the most common complaints against law enforcers.

Physical Assault

Physical assault is common in instances where police officers use excessive force when making arrests or investigating a crime. Use of excessive force is using unnecessary pressure to gain compliance or control, which often results in serious physical injuries and, sometimes, death.

If you have been a victim of physical assault by the police, you might be struggling to decide what to do. Luckily, various options are available to you, with the first step being to seek legal assistance from skilled police misconduct attorneys in Philadelphia. They can advise on filing an official complaint against the officer in question.

Wrongful Arrests

Wrongful arrests happen when police officers physically detain people illegally by acting beyond the scope of their authority. Common perpetrators of unlawful arrests are private security firms, although police departments are not exempt from the misconduct. In most cases, wrongful arrests have little to do with unsubstantiated evidence.

For example, an officer may arrest you based on someone else’s testimony. The claim may turn out to be a lie later. If the judge determines that the claims were reasonable at the time of the arrest and the officers had a warrant, the situation may not qualify as police misconduct.

However, arresting someone for calling another person ugly may qualify as a wrongful arrest. While calling someone ugly may be rude, it’s not illegal under federal or state laws. If you’re arrested and believe it was unlawful, consult experienced Philadelphia police misconduct lawyers and let them evaluate your case.

Unlawful Search and Seizure

The Fourth Amendment shields citizens from unlawful searches and seizures. Law enforcers must obtain consent, a search warrant, or have probable cause when searching a person or their property.

For the law to protect you against illegal searches or seizures, you should have a reasonable expectation of privacy during an investigation, for example, when having your family time. However, there are exceptions to the rule, such as the following:

  • Lawful arrest: Police officers don’t need a search warrant to search the scene or your person as it is part of a legal arrest process
  • Plain view: If you leave something illegal in sight and police officers see and seize it, you cannot contest the act
  • Consent: If you consent to a police search, you cannot later claim that the police officers searched you or your property illegally. If you do, your police misconduct attorneys in Philadelphia cannot use the Fourth Amendment to defend you.
  • Legal traffic stop: Police officers don’t need a warrant to perform their lawful duties at legal police stops. They only need a valid reason to search you and your property.

Witness Tampering and Intimidation

When police officers face misconduct charges, police misconduct lawyers will help witnesses give the court an honest account of the events under oath. These testimonies are necessary to prove that police misconduct ever happened.

Police officers know this too well and may attempt to tamper with the witnesses to stop them from testifying. Sometimes, a police officer facing charges may force the witness to make false statements or commit fraud.

Planted Evidence

Police officers know that the cases they bring against wrongdoers must be accompanied by relevant evidence. However, instead of gathering and analyzing the available evidence, some officers plan evidence to achieve the desired results. Some reasons why some officers engage in some misconduct are:

  • Lack of evidence to prove that someone is guilty of a crime
  • Malicious intention to send someone to jail for a crime the law can’t pin against them
  • Being under pressure to solve a case quickly
  • Revenging against someone
  • Padding arrest records to speed up their promotion

No matter how noble the intention of planting evidence is, it is unlawful and could lead to illegal arrest, prosecution, convictions, or incarceration, which clearly violates the victim’s constitutional rights.

Sexual Misconduct

Some police officers use their authority to sexually assault the people they arrest or detain. Some groups of people that law enforcers commonly take advantage of are intoxicated women, women of color, women involved in human trafficking or prostitution, victims of domestic violence, and even children.

Other common complaints against the police are:

  • Use of inappropriate language, comments, or racial slurs during investigation or detention
  • Degrading or rude treatment during an arrest
  • Asking for information irrelevant to the inquiry at hand
  • Racial profiling, which is often characterized by undue or different attention or treatment due to one’s race
  • Heavy police presence disproportionate to the incident at hand, for example, a police officer calling for backup where a black man was driving a scooter without a license

If you or your loved one have been subjected to any of the above police behavior, you could file a complaint with the help of civil rights advocates in Philadelphia.

An Experienced Police Misconduct Attorney Defending Your Rights Against Police Misconduct

As a citizen in the United States, you’re entitled to civil rights and fair and equal treatment. If the police violate these rights through misconduct, you can pursue legal action. Aggressive police misconduct lawyers in Philadelphia can help you hold the officers and department accountable and help you recover compensation for the damages.

Civil rights advocate at Abramson & Denenberg, PC, can help you with your police misconduct case. There are time limits to filing complaints against the police, and we want to ensure you don’t miss your opportunity to pursue justice. Call us at 215-398-7066 to schedule a FREE case strategy.