Franklin County Police Misconduct Lawyers
Most police officers in this country take great pains to fulfill their duties, while also respecting the rights of citizens. However, as many of us have seen in recent news or in our own lives, a surprising number of people have their legal rights violated by law enforcement on a regular basis. Although it is possible to hold officers accountable for this type of conduct, it can be difficult, so if you were recently the victim of police misconduct, it is critical to speak with a Franklin County police misconduct lawyer who has experience handling these kinds of cases and can ensure that your rights and interests are protected.
What is Police Misconduct?
Although law enforcement officers are generally considered to be immune from prosecution, there are exceptions to this rule. For instance, federal law specifically prohibits anyone whose power is derived from a government agency, such as a law enforcement officer, from willfully depriving someone else of their constitutional or legal rights.
Most people associate a violation of this law with the use of excessive force by police officers during detainment and arrest. These cases arise in situations in which an officer exceeds the reasonable level of force that he or she is permitted to use when gaining control of a citizen. While this is perhaps the most well-known example of police misconduct, federal law actually prohibits a wide range of conduct, including:
- Sexual misconduct, which includes rape, as well as sexual contact, such as groping, that was procured by force or threat;
- Purposeful indifference to a victim’s medical condition or a substantial risk of harm to that individual;
- Failure to intervene, which involves purposely allowing a fellow officer to violate a victim’s rights;
- Intentional false arrests; and
- The purposeful fabrication of evidence.
Although discriminatory actions are prohibited under this law, victims are not required to prove that a discriminatory motive existed in order to demonstrate a violation of the law. Instead, plaintiffs must prove that:
- The officer deprived a victim of a legal or constitutional right;
- The officer intended to engage in the unlawful conduct, knowing that it was against the law; and
- The officer was acting under government authority.
The most crucial element that plaintiffs must prove in these types of cases is intent, as a mistake, misperception, fear, or poor judgment do not constitute willful conduct.
Defendants who are found guilty of police misconduct are considered to have committed a misdemeanor offense, unless:
- They used, tried, or threatened to use a dangerous weapon;
- The victim sustained a physical injury; or
- Their actions included attempted murder, kidnapping, aggravated sexual abuse, or resulted in a death.
If one or more of these conditions exist, a defendant can be charged with a felony, in addition to facing civil penalties.
Call Today for a Case Review
If you or a loved one recently had your rights violated by a law enforcement officer, you need the advice of an experienced attorney. To learn more about filing a claim of police misconduct, please contact our dedicated Franklin County legal team at Marshall & Forman, LLC by calling (614) 463-9790 today.