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The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution states “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.” This is your constitutional right. 42 U.S.C. § 1983, more commonly known as simply § 1983 provides that if a person acting under color of state law, such as a police officer, violates your Civil Rights as guaranteed by the Constitution or Laws of the United States, he may be liable and required to pay you damages.
The New York Police Department is charged with protecting our safety. As such, they have certain powers. A police officer who has a reasonable suspicion that you were involved in a crime or have information about a crime has the right to stop and question you, but you do not have to answer his questions. He may also do a pat-down search to assure himself that you are unarmed. If he has probable cause to believe that you committed an offense, he may arrest you. However, if you cooperate and are polite to the officer, it is not unreasonable to expect that he will do the same for you.
Unfortunately, there are times when police officers act beyond their authority. This usually takes the form of excessive use of force or improper arrests (False Arrest). When this happens, they have violated your civil rights and The Stein Law Group, PLLC can help you recover money damages.
A police officer may only use that force reasonably necessary to accomplish that which he (or she) is authorized to do. Therefore, while a police officer may handcuff a suspect under arrest, he might still violate the person's constitutional rights if he were, for example, to point a weapon at an unarmed and handcuffed individual. Typically, excessive force claims which find their way into the newspapers involve the use of weapons or the unnecessary beating of individuals. However, most claims are not that clear cut and will turn on the circumstances of the use of the force, taking into account the goals of the officer and whether he was authorized to carry out those goals.
Under both state and federal law, police officers may not use excessive force on citizens in the performance of their duties. Unfortunately, the newspapers are full of stories of police torture, unlawful arrests, and coerced confessions. At The Stein Law Group, PLLC, we are experienced in police brutality cases, and we are not afraid of standing up to the police when they have crossed the line from aggressive police work into brutality.
If you have been victimized by police brutality, you may be entitled to an award of damages. If you or someone you know have sustained an injury caused by police brutality, please contact The Stein Law Group, PLLC for a free consultation.
While an excessive force claim arises out of the question of what force is necessary for the officer to accomplish that which he (or she) is authorized to do, a false arrest claim goes to the question of what authority an officer has. False arrest is defined as physically detaining someone without the legal right to do so. You cannot be detained solely because of your race, gender or sexual orientation. You cannot be searched or arrested without either a warrant or probable cause to assume you have committed a crime.
In order to make an arrest and take an individual into custody, the officer must meet a greater standard in which the officer must have probable cause to believe that an individual has committed a crime. If you believe that you have been falsely arrested or subjected to police harassment you should contact The Stein Law Group, PLLC for a free consultation.
For a free consultation and case analysis, call The Stein Law Group, PLLC today at 800-516-2812.