Fri 31 Mar, 2023 Police Misconduct

Can You Sue the Police for Misconduct in NYC?

If the police violated your civil rights, an NYC police misconduct lawyer may be able sue the police on your behalf to make the police pay for their wrongdoing.

Civil rights claims against police officers are typically brought through U.S.C. § 1983, which creates a cause of action against any person who, while using governmental authority, deprives another person of a federal constitutional or statutory right.

So, when the police—who act under governmental authority—violate one of your constitutional rights—for instance, your 4th amendment right to be free from unreasonable seizures—you have a legitimate legal claim and can retain a police misconduct lawyer to sue the police. Depending on the specifics of the police misconduct, you may be awarded significant compensation.

Possible Claims Against the Police

If the police violate your civil rights, you may be able to bring a variety of claims against them. Some of these claims include:

  • False Arrest
  • Excessive Force (Police Brutality)
  • Denial of Right to a Fair Trial
  • False Imprisonment
  • Malicious Abuse of Process
  • Failure to Intervene
  • Malicious Prosecution
  • Denial of Equal Protection

If you initiate a lawsuit against the police, you may be able to sue the officers individually, the police department as a whole, or both. An NYC police misconduct lawyer can assess the specifics of your case to determine the best way to present your legal claims in court. 

Your Potential Compensation

If the police violated your civil rights, you may be entitled to significant compensation. The compensation you receive for a successful claim can widely vary. 

For example, let’s say the police arrest you for selling drugs. As the police are putting you in handcuffs, one officer unnecessarily and unreasonably pushes you into the patrol car. You hit your head and it’s sore, although you have no visible injuries, and you don’t need any medical treatment for it. In this scenario, although the police violated your right to be free from unreasonable and excessive force, the harm you suffered is minimal. Ultimately, it might not be worth your time and energy to initiate a lawsuit that will not result in satisfying compensation. 

At the other end of the spectrum, say you were arrested for murder and the police hide evidence that someone else is the perpetrator of the crime. Let’s say a jury convicts you because they don’t see the suppressed evidence, and you serve years in prison. If you can prove that the police wrongfully withheld evidence that proved your innocence, you would have a very serious claim against the police for their wrongdoing, and the police might end up paying you millions of dollars for what they did to you. 

Many police misconduct lawsuits do not involve these extremes of pennies or millions of dollars. A more common scenario may involve a person who is falsely accused by the police of harassing a police officer. The police throw the person to the ground, causing visible bruising, and the person ends up being wrongfully incarcerated in a holding cell for 24 hours before being released by the judge. In this sort of scenario, although the harm suffered doesn’t equate to millions of dollars, depending on the circumstances you could possibly still receive a solid five or six-figure settlement or jury verdict. It’s impossible to know the exact value of a case with surgical precision, but if you have a potential claim, an NYC police misconduct lawyer can review your case to determine your possible outcomes.

The Phases of a Lawsuit

If you decide to sue the police, the process will generally be as follows:

First, you will select the police misconduct lawyer whom you’d like to represent you for your lawsuit. Most NYC police misconduct lawyers don’t charge clients any out-of-pocket fees to take a police misconduct case. Instead, most lawyers take police misconduct cases on a contingency basis. In other words, your lawyer will typically just take a percentage of the winnings only if you are successful with the lawsuit. 

Next, after analyzing your case, your lawyer will provide notice to the police that he intends to commence a lawsuit in court. At this point, sometimes the police will come forward with a reasonable settlement offer. Your lawyer will discuss the offer with you and weigh the pros and cons of accepting or rejecting the offer. If you decide to take the offer, then the matter is concluded.

If you do not accept a pre-suit settlement offer, your lawyer will file a lawsuit in court. Cases can commence in either federal court or state court. Once the lawsuit commences, both parties will go through the discovery process, which is essentially both sides showing each other the evidence that they have. This can include depositions, which is where the parties question witnesses under oath. Your lawyer will likely also conduct further investigations in an effort to obtain evidence that helps prove that the police violated your rights.

Once the discovery process is concluded, the parties may file motions with the court that argue why certain evidence is sufficient or insufficient for the claims.

If the judge rules that the legal claims are warranted, your case might go to trial for a jury to decide whether it believes you have proven your claim. If the jury decides in your favor, it will determine the amount of money it believes you should receive to compensate you for the police misconduct.

Throughout the lawsuit, the police may make better settlement offers to resolve the case. You and your NYC misconduct lawyer will analyze any offers received to determine if they are worth accepting.

An NYC Police Misconduct Lawyer Can Help You Today

If you believe the police violated your civil rights, then give me a call for a free consultation. Unlike many other lawyers who take police misconduct cases, my firm focuses on criminal law and issues relating to the lawfulness of police conduct. At your free consultation, we can discuss exactly what the police did to you and determine the best course of action to make the police pay for their wrongdoing.