What is Police Misconduct?

police arrest

Police misconduct is a hot button issue in this country today. What exactly constitutes police misconduct? What should you do if you feel that your rights have been violated by law enforcement? If you have an encounter with the police, it is in your best interest to understand your rights and know which actions could fall under the category of police misconduct. 

California Police Misconduct 

The term “police misconduct” can encompass a variety of actions taken by police, sheriffs or other law enforcement agencies. In general, it includes conduct that is illegal or dishonest and violates the constitutional civil rights of an individual. Abuse of power by law enforcement can undermine their role as protectors and cause substantial harm to individuals and to society as a whole.

Police misconduct can include any of the following actions: 

  • False arrest
  • Unlawful detentions 
  • The use of excessive force
  • Unreasonable search and seizures 
  • Lying under oath
  • Use of racial profiling 
  • Police brutality 

Civil rights violations such as those listed here cannot be pushed under the rug. Law enforcement should be held responsible for actions that unfairly violate the rights of the people they are trusted to protect. 

If you feel that you have been the victim of police misconduct including unlawful detentions, false arrests or the use of excessive force, you should immediately seek out an attorney to help you understand your rights and your legal options so you can get the justice you deserve. 

What is a false arrest? 

A false arrest occurs when there is no legal reason for the arrest to occur. For example, if the officer does not have probable cause or if an individual is arrested without a warrant or a valid warrant. 

What is an unlawful detention? 

An unlawful detention occurs when police take away an individual’s ability to leave and violate their 4th Amendment rights. Detentions are usually brief encounters and result in an arrest or letting the person go. A detention can be unlawful if police detain a person for an unreasonable  amount of time or if they did not have probable cause to detain the individual in the first place. 

What is excessive force? 

Excessive force occurs when police use more force than is reasonably necessary to arrest an individual. For example, the use of chokeholds is considered excessive and is prohibited under California law. 

What is unreasonable search and seizure? 

Unreasonable search and seizure is prohibited under the 4th Amendment. This amendment seeks to protect citizens from violations of their privacy or freedom. Police must have a valid warrant or probable cause in order to perform a search or make an arrest, or else it is considered illegal. 

What is lying under oath? 

Also known as perjury, police cannot willfully lie during a trial or in their reporting. In addition, perjury can occur if a member of law enforcement offers false evidence to procure a warrant. 

What is racial profiling? 

Racial profiling is defined as using characteristics of a class of people as reason to detain or arrest an individual, not probable cause based on specific and individual factors. 

Protect Your Rights in California 

Anytime you have concerns about the conduct of law enforcement, it must be taken seriously. More and more, we are seeing instances of police misconduct on the news. This is happening for many reasons. The prevalence of smartphones means that citizens have video recorders at their fingertips 24/7. The shocking stories that we see are making more people aware of their rights and violations of those rights. 

If you have experienced an unlawful arrest or believe that your rights were violated by a member of law enforcement, consult with a California attorney right away. The Law Office of Joni Eisenstein is a leading criminal defense firm in San Diego County with a reputation for providing competent and tenacious defense for defendants facing a variety of criminal charges including assault and battery, DUI, domestic violence, minor in possession, theft, probation violations and traffic violations.