Arizona Criminal Defense Attorney Nick Alcock: What you should do if you feel you are the victim of police misconduct?
While there to protect and serve the public, all police and other law enforcement officers are also required to function within the law. As a criminal defense attorney, I have much respect for many police officers. After all, they have a sworn duty to not only protect citizens from harm inflicted by others but to protect the rights guaranteed to us by the U.S. Federal Constitution.
However, if they break the rules, you may hold the officer accountable in a court of law. Not only will the officer be held accountable for any misconduct on his part, he is further required to compensate you for the violation and any resulting injury.
Arizona does limit the authority and the rights of law enforcement officials. The police must act reasonably in enforcing the law. A violation of such enforcement could be false arrest, abuse of power, excessive force, brutality, unlawful use of a weapon or entering a home without a warrant.
So, can you actually do anything about police misconduct and, if so, what steps should you take? The first thing following any incident with the police is to write everything down as soon as possible. The more time you allow to pass, the more likely you are to forget small details that could otherwise make a huge difference in your case later on.
Here are some tips you should consider if you think you were the victim of police misconduct.
1) Describe everything in your own words that took place from the very beginning of the police encounter to the end and be sure to only include the facts that you’re sure about as any inaccuracies could damage your credibility and undermine the entire report. It is important to be as specific as possible about the location, time of date, etc. Also try to include witness’s names, contact information and the officer’s names, physical descriptions and badge numbers.
2) Consult with an attorney, particularly if you were arrested following the incident. Police misconduct cases are challenging and victims are usually vigorously prosecuted in order to gain leverage in case the victim files a lawsuit.
3) Once all criminal charges and civil suits have been resolved, file an official police misconduct report. This creates documentation of an incident and could be used together along with other complaints to illustrate a pattern of misconduct. Your complaint could become relevant in the future if the same officer is accused of additional misconduct.
If you or a loved one feel you were the victim of police misconduct in Arizona, please give Alcock and Associates a call today at 602-989-5000 for a free consultation. You do have constitutional rights and one of our highly experienced attorneys with expertise in police misconduct can explain your options and guide you through the process.