The majority of police in the metro-Atlanta area work hard to protect Georgia citizens. In conducting their responsibilities, however, some go too far while making an arrest or detaining suspects. If they fail to follow the proper rules or procedures, resulting in harm, they may be liable for any damages that result.
A false or unlawful arrest occurs when a police officer (or any other person) unlawfully restrains a person’s movement. It may occur:
Police officers are typically defendants in unlawful arrest claims, but anyone who unreasonably detains another may face civil consequences.
To prove an unlawful arrest occurred, the plaintiff must show that:
Each of these terms has its own legal definition. Intent, for example, assumes that the person who committed the arrest did so purposefully – in other words, that he or she was aware of his or her actions.
Secondly, being “conscious” of the confinement supposes that the victim was aware of his or her arrest. For example, if police officers detain a person in a holding cell while he or she is inebriated and unconscious, it may not be false arrest.
The crux of many false arrest cases relies on whether the arrest was “privileged.” Privileged arrests have legal justification – this may be in the form of a court order or warrant. Another form of a privileged arrest involves probable cause – a notion which is much more subjective.
A police officer may have probable cause for an arrest if he or she believes that the person arrested committed or was in the process of committing a crime. In a legal sense, we say that an officer has probable cause if the facts surrounding the case at the time of an arrest would lead any reasonable individual to believe the arrestee did commit the crime. This is a separate issue from whether anyone believes the arrestee was guilty of a crime – this is a matter for the criminal court system to decide.
What further complicates the matter of probable cause is that a police officer does not have to observe the crime in order to make an arrest – the victim of the crime or another eyewitness can provide the probable cause an officer needs to make an arrest – as long as he or she reasonably believes the person. However, there must usually be other evidence linking the person to the crime before an officer can establish probable cause.
The law requires that police officers follow certain procedures, like establishing probable cause or obtaining a warrant – prior to making an arrest. Failure to do so constitutes unlawful arrest and is a violation of the First Amendment. If you believe a police officer or other party violated your civil rights, you may be able to file a claim and be compensated for any damages you incurred.
Your first step is to contact an attorney experienced with civil rights violations. The lawyers at ChancoSchiffer P.C. will listen to your story and personally handle your unlawful arrest case. For more information or to schedule a free case evaluation with our firm, please contact us.