Frequent Types of Unlawful Conduct Committed by Police
Did you know that government officials, such as police officers, can be prosecuted for crimes committed on the job? This fact is of a growing interest to US citizens and law enforcement agencies alike, as police misconduct often makes national headlines in the news. With this in mind, we encourage you to examine the five common types of police misconduct below to grasp an idea of what actions to avoid committing:
Excessive Force: If a victim has been arrested or detained, or is being held in jail but not yet convicted, the government must prove that the police officer used unnecessary force to arrest or control the victim. In doing so, prosecutors must objectively evaluate what a reasonable officer would have done under the same circumstances. Police officers are allowed to use whatever force is “reasonably” necessary but may be prosecuted for using force that is unreasonable or excessive, which can span a broad scope of actions ranging from the physical presence of an officer to the use of deadly force, according to the FBI.
Deprivation of Medical Care: Arrestees have the right to medical treatment for serious medical needs, but an officer who knowingly fails to recognize and address their needs could commit a color of law violation. “Color of law” means a person is exercising the authority granted to them by a government agency. Thus, an officer who willfully and knowingly denies or prevents an arrestee’s access to medical care may face federal color of law charges.
False Arrest: An obstruction of justice, false arrests often result from unreasonable searches and seizures that the 4th Amendment protects US citizens from. Police officers are legally allowed to stop individuals but can only search them and seize their property under certain circumstances. Additionally, falsifying evidence or falsely arresting a person is illegal, as it violates federal color of law statutes.
This is because it is unlawful to violate a person’s rights to due process and protections from unreasonable seizures, therefore an officer who unlawfully obtains or maintains a person’s property may receive legal punishments and lost their job. For context, due process allows defendants to have a trial and avoid punishment if they were not afforded the legal process to which they are entitled. Thus, if an officer falsely arrests a person, their hindrance on that person’s right to due process may result in the case getting dropped altogether.
Sexual Assault: Sexual assault by police officers can occur within jails, arrests, traffic stops, and other situations where an officer has authority. Cases of coercive sexual conduct by law enforcement often concern rape, sexual contact procured by force, threats of force or coercion, and unwanted or gratuitous sexual contact (i.e., touching or groping).
Failure to Protect from Harm: Law enforcement officials operate to serve and protect their communities. People depend on police officers to protect them from harm. Thus, if an officer willfully fails to keep an individual from harm, they may face federal charges for intentionally failing to adhere to their legal obligations.
Facing Federal Color of Law Charges?
As a law enforcement officer or other government official, facing federal criminal charges can be frightening. Your freedom, reputation, and career could be at stake, which is why you must retain an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. As a former prosecutor who now defends the accused, Attorney Cherella has insights into both sides of the system that may help improve your chances of receiving a favorable outcome.
To learn about your legal defense options, please reach out to us online or at (414) 882-8382. We are here for you.