Police misconduct becomes a concern in either of two situations. The first situation is when you have been charged with a crime or other offense, including a “mere” traffic violation. We routinely look at police misconduct in this situation to see whether that police misconduct might enable Criminal Defense Lawyers in New Jersey™ to have your charges dismissed. In the second situation, criminal (or traffic) charges may or may not have been filed. Regardless, the police violated your civil rights, and you want to sue the police. The focus of this page is in suing the police for violating your rights. If your immediate concern is obtaining legal services to defend against charges that have been filed, you should click on the page relating to your specific charge, or to “The Bottom Line”.
One way police violate your rights is by an illegal search and seizure. Usually this search and seizure was illegal because the police searched you, your home, or your car without first obtaining a search warrant. Sometimes even when the police did obtain a search warrant, the search and seizure was illegal because in some way it exceeded the scope of the warrant. For example, the warrant may have been for a particular period of time and, when the search took place, that time had already passed. Or the warrant may have authorized search of rooms on the first floor, and the police searched rooms on the second floor. Or the court may have issued the search warrant improperly. Things like this happen! In those situations, the courts will treat the search and seizure as if no warrant had been obtained at all. Searches and seizures conducted without a search warrant are presumed to be illegal. It is the police who then have the burden of refuting this presumption of illegality.
Illegal search and seizure is only one kind of police misconduct that can lend itself to a lawsuit against police. Other kinds of police misconduct relate to police use of excessive force; arrest for exercising Constitutional rights, like right of free speech, right of freedom of religion, and right of peaceful assembly. Excessive force can be a simple assault. Excessive force can also be as severe as death. And excessive force can be anywhere in between those two extremes.
Lawsuits of this nature are never easy. They proceed slowly. They can be emotionally draining. They are vigorously defended. They are also costly. On the plus side, however, the courts will award counsel fees to a successful plaintiff. Because of this, civil rights lawyers are often able to handle cases of this nature for little or no initial payment, and then seek a judgment that orders the police to pay the lawyer's fees and expenses.
If the police have violated your rights, do not file a complaint with their Internal Affairs unit. Internal Affairs is not your friend.
The law offices of Allan Marain have sued police for illegal conduct, and won. Allan Marain would welcome the opportunity to review your own situation. If police have violated your rights, call them. They can help.