Portland Police Misconduct Attorney
The Henry A. Wallace Police Crime Database sponsored by Bowling Green State University continues to collect national data about law enforcement officers who commit crimes. The most recent data includes case information from more than 9,000 criminal arrest cases between 2005 and 2013, involving more than 7,500 law enforcement officers. A little more than 1,100 of those cases involved arrests for official misconduct, but the data also show several other crime statistics including tampering with evidence, civil rights violations, making a false report, and much more. The fact that those in uniform take an oath to protect and serve, but are capable of committing such egregious crimes, is a scary proposition.
If law enforcement violated your rights in any way, whether through excessive force, assault, civil rights violations, false imprisonment, or wrongful arrest, and you live in the Portland area, contact the skilled police misconduct attorneys at Richard Rizk Law Office at (503) 245-5677 for a free consultation.
What Is Police Misconduct?
No agreed upon legal definition of police misconduct exists, but a reasonable law-abiding citizen would consider many types of behavior and acts committed by on-duty and off-duty police officers as misconduct. In light of the dictionary definition of misconduct, “deliberate violation of a law or standard especially by a government official,” here are some potential examples of police misconduct:
- Use of excessive force or brutality
- Wrongful arrests
- Police shootings
- Unlawful search and seizure
- Sexual assault
- Racial profiling and other civil rights violations
- Forced imprisonment
- Failure to aid an injured or ill suspect
What Are Your Rights?
Federal laws that deal with police misconduct include both civil and criminal laws. One incident may include both realms of procedure; if you were a victim of police misconduct, you may likely be involved in both. Regardless, when a police officer acts in a manner that violates the responsibility to the public and causes serious harm, that officer is breaking the law.
- Federal criminal laws – According to federal law, persons wielding power granted by a local, state, or federal governmental agency are breaking the law if they willfully deprive anyone of the rights or privileges guaranteed by the Constitution. According to the Department of Justice, these statutes cover misconduct such as excessive force, sexual assault, intentional wrongful arrests, and fabrication of evidence. If the state or federal government brings a case against a police officer for this behavior, he or she may be fined, discharged, or have to serve jail time.
- Federal civil laws – The Law Enforcement Misconduct Statute repeats the standards of the criminal statutes in terms of violating one’s Constitutional rights. The difference is that this provision allows you to also file a lawsuit against the police officer and associated agency. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also protects you from police misconduct. This civil statute and the Office of Justice Programs protect you from police discrimination, and cover specific behaviors such as harassment, racist language, wrongful arrests, discriminatory traffic stops, and coercive sexual conduct.
What Are Common Defenses to Police Misconduct?
Law enforcement officers will use two main defenses for their misconduct. First, they will claim that their actions were reasonable given the situation, especially in the case of excessive force or police brutality. Second, they may try to claim immunity for their behavior as a law enforcement officer.
If you wish to see justice served, your best action is to hire legal counsel with experience in police misconduct cases. One of the most important things you can do for your case is to keep detailed records, especially if you are experiencing regular harassment from a police officer. Write down all interactions, document any potential evidence or witnesses, and make sure to share them with your attorney.
What Damages May I Recover When Police Misconduct Occurs?
If a law enforcement officer has behaved improperly toward you, you may sue for damages. The specific damages that you can claim depend on your individual situation. Your attorney will guide you in that department, but some of the most common situations that you may seek damages for include:
- Time spent in prison or jail in the case of a wrongful arrest and/or false imprisonment.
- Medical expenses for any physical injuries incurred which may include hospitalization, surgery, rehabilitation, prescriptions, trauma counseling, and more.
- Civil rights violations if you were arrested because of race, creed, national origin, or a similar class
- Length of court case
- Time and expense for court visits
- Lost employment and/or lost earnings
- Damage to your reputation
If police misconduct has resulted in the death of someone you love, you may also file a wrongful death suit. As a family member, you can sue for funeral costs, loss of benefits, care of a dependent, and pain and suffering. You can also sue for loss of income if the deceased was the primary wage-earner in the household.
How Much Does a Lawyer Cost me?
Most law firms offer free consultations so you can discuss your police misconduct case with an experienced attorney before making a decision. Each individual situation is different, but you typically do not have to worry about paying an attorney right away; often, these types of cases are handled on a contingency fee basis. Your attorney will deduct attorney’s fees as a portion of any settlement or judgment you receive.
We depend on those in blue to protect us. When they fail, they disappoint us, but when they intentionally harm, they may alter a person’s life in unthinkable and often permanent ways. Police misconduct, whether excessive force, brutality, wrongful arrest, or any other type of misconduct, causes physical, financial, and emotional distress to victims. A skilled police misconduct lawyer can investigate your case, talk to witnesses, locate other victims, represent your interests, and worry about the details of the litigation process. You can worry about focusing on your recovery.
If you or someone you love has been a victim of police misconduct, it’s vital to seek justice now. If you live in the Portland area, contact one of the experienced police misconduct attorneys at Richard Rizk Law Office at (503) 245-5677 for a free consultation.