What is Police Misconduct?
Just like the rest of us, police officers aren’t perfect. Most of them do their jobs and do them well. However, some may use excessive force or other means during an arrest that would qualify them for police misconduct. Inappropriate conduct or illegal activities while performing police duties are considered police misconduct.
Common Examples of Police Misconduct
Some common examples of police misconduct are;
Tampering with evidence – when a police officer alters, conceals, falsifies, or destroys evidence relating to a case
Discrimination – as protected by civil rights, it is illegal for an officer to engage in discriminatory practices such as false arrest, harassment, or otherwise engaging with individuals for no other reason than their race, religion, sex, or.
Excessive force – according to Cornell Law, excessive force is “in excess of what a police officer reasonably believes is necessary.” The term police brutality is typically used in conjunction with the term excessive force. In some cases, if another police officer witnesses excessive force or police brutality and doesn’t intervene, they also may be investigated well.
Coerced confessions – coercing a suspect through the policeman’s overbearing conduct rather than by the suspect’s free will is considered a coerced confession. The result can be an altered or entirely false confession.
Witness Tampering or Intimidation – much like tampering with evidence, if a police officer tampers with a witness’s account of an incident or uses intimidation to alter their statement, this can be considered misconduct.
Lying on police reports – falsifying, exaggerating, or other lying on police reports is a common form of police misconduct.
Sexual assault – however rare, in some cases, police officers will engage in inappropriate sexual behavior with suspects or witnesses. Sexual assault can result in an investigation and significant charges if found guilty.
Alcohol or drug abuse – just like individuals that they police, officers aren’t allowed to abuse drugs or alcohol while on the job.
Off-duty misconduct – examples such as using police identification to obtain discounts or entering establishments are examples of off-duty misconduct.
Corruption – it is not uncommon for police officers to engage in corruption. Corruption in this example could be in the form of accepting bribes from other officers, “doing favors” for other officers, or working together to hide necessary information.
If you believe an officer you know is guilty of any of the above examples, it’s crucial to report the incident or behavior immediately. Work with a trusted attorney to ensure you handle the complaint process effectively.
Who Investigates Police Misconduct?
If a police officer is suspected of misconduct, an internal affairs department will typically investigate the situation.
The Department of Justice oversees investigations on a federal level. Charges involving police misconduct can involve both civil and criminal statutes. Misconduct consisting of police brutality, sexual assault, intentional false arrests, theft, and more may result in federal criminal charges.
The Police Misconduct Provision is a law that governs police officers and ensures they aren’t violating the civil rights of individuals, suspects, or witnesses through actions such as discriminatory harassment, unlawful stops, coercive sexual conduct, excessive force, false arrests, and more. If a pattern of misconduct is discovered, the Department of Justice may force changes to regulations or training within the department that is exhibiting poor behavior patterns.
What is the Exclusionary Rule?
Another attempt to keep officers and other government agents from exhibiting misconduct and abusing civil rights is the formation of the Exclusionary Rule. The rule prohibits evidence from being used during trials and legal proceedings if it was unlawfully obtained. The judge may choose to suppress evidence such as a false or coerced confession, and therefore, the prosecution may be forced to drop the charges if they don’t have other sufficient evidence.
The Exclusionary Rule also applies to other misconduct, such as false stops, unlawful detention, lack of probable cause, and more.
How Do I Report Mistreatment By a Police Officer?
If you believe a police officer inappropriately treated you, you can contact the Citizen’s Police Complaint Office. Once you discuss the incident, the staff will determine whether or not a formal complaint should be entered, and if so, they will send you the necessary forms to complete. Once your documents are submitted, you may be asked for further information or follow-up questions.
It is important to note that complaints must be filed within 180 days of the incident.
By working with an experienced criminal defense attorney, you can ensure that your complaint was filed within the timeline and accurately depicts the incident so action can be taken.
How Can An Attorney Help Me?
If you suspect that a police officer engage in misconduct during your arrest or otherwise, it is crucial that you speak with an experienced attorney immediately. As mentioned above, the complaint must be formally reported within 180 days of the incident. This means that time is definitely of the essence.
You can rely on the years of experience throughout our team to ensure you benefit from a large law firm experience while getting the deserved attention of a smaller law firm to assist you. We are tireless, passionate, and confident that we can help you with an effective strategy so you can move forward to the next chapter of your life.
Contact our office today at (317) 623-4546 for a confidential evaluation and to learn how we can best assist you and your loved ones. Whether the issues you face are large or small, we are ready to advocate for you fiercely.