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Understanding what constitutes police misconduct

Encounters with law enforcement are not always easy and straightforward. For some California residents, being approached and questioned by the police is not an easy situation. While law enforcement officers are empowered to protect the laws of the land and protect its citizens, there are some limits to this power. Even if an officer believes they are enforcing the law, some conduct carried out is not only unlawful but also violates the rights of individuals.

Police misconduct is certainly discussed in the media; however, many are misinformed what exactly constitutes police misconduct. While a police officer is generally immune form lawsuits if they properly and lawfully perform their job, this is not the case when there exists willful and unreasonable conduct. However, mere negligence or the failure to exercise due car is not enough to evidence liability.

In order for there to be a case of police misconduct, there must have been a violation of a person's civil rights. This is where remedies come into play. If an individual can prove that the police conduct was willful and that it did violate a constitutional right, it is possible to file a legal action.

There are three common incidents that give rise to police misconduct. The first is false imprisonment. This asserts that a false arrest was made, thus violating a person's Fourth Amendment right. The second is malicious prosecution. This occurs when a police officer wrongfully deprives a person of their Fourteenth Amendment right to liberty. Finally, the third is excessive force. This is the type of police misconduct that gets the most publicity as it involves an outrageous amount of force, causing serious physical injuries or even death of an individual

If you believe that you were a victim of police misconduct, it is important to understand your rights. Gaining a full perspective of your situation and the laws on your side could help you file an action. This not only helps you place liability on a wrongdoer but also helps you recover compensation for your losses.

Source:, "Police Misconduct and Civil Rights," accessed Sept. 10, 2017

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