What Is Police Misconduct?
Law enforcement officers are entrusted to safeguard their neighborhoods and uphold high ethical standards. In fact, many police officers chose to enter this profession to better their communities. However, regrettably, some personnel don’t adhere to these values and can resort to misconduct—a move that has grave repercussions on both the public’s perception of the police and the effectiveness of the justice system overall.
When law enforcement officers abuse their power and violate another person’s constitutional rights, it is considered police misconduct. This can encompass a variety of activities, such as brutality and using excessive force, conducting illegal searches of property, and intimidating suspects during interrogation. Certain types of misconduct can have drastic impacts on criminal cases—potentially leading to wrongful convictions and innocent people paying the price. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys at Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella are sharing examples of police misconduct and how it could impact court proceedings.
Examples of police misconduct that could impact conviction include, but are not limited to:
- Arrest without probable cause
- Witness tampering
- Planted evidence
- Coerced confession
Arrest without Probable Cause
Also called a false arrest, this is when someone is taken into custody without probable cause or a valid warrant. This type of unlawful seizure contravenes the Fourth Amendment right to be secure from unreasonable search and detainment, as stipulated by the Constitution.
This form of misconduct involves officers attempting to alter witness testimony through illegal means. These tactics can include bribery, threats, or other methods of coercion. Not only does this impact the person providing the statement but these tactics might also deter other witnesses from coming forward to avoid the same mistreatment.
Planted evidence refers to the fabrication, alteration, planting, or hiding of physical evidence with the intention of misleading a court or jury. Often this type of misconduct involves falsifying records or intimidating witnesses as well in order to close a case quickly.
A coerced confession is one that is acquired through threats, intimidation, or undue influence. The testimony has been extracted from a person against their will and typically results in false information being provided to law enforcement.
Consequences of Police Misconduct for the Accused
The stress of facing criminal charges is taxing enough, but adding the fear and uncertainty that comes from experiencing police misconduct can make the entire process feel doubly challenging. Luckily, experienced criminal defense attorneys can help you better understand if your rights have been violated and work to discredit the officer in question.
Once police misconduct is proven, it can lead to the rejection of illegally acquired evidence. The exclusionary rule allows any court to exclude such unlawfully procured proof if they determine that constitutional rights were violated. Additionally, any evidence that was acquired from the original, illegally obtained, evidence is considered “fruit of the poisonous tree” and also falls under the exclusionary rule. In many criminal cases, particularly drug-based crimes, this can snowball into the entire case being dismissed due to lack of evidence.
20+ Years of Protecting the Rights of Defendants
At Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella, our experienced criminal defense attorneys believe in protecting the rights of our clients, and we will utilize every tool at our disposal to construct a strong legal defense. We understand the challenges present if police misconduct has affected your case and are dedicated to helping you fight for your future.
Call Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella today at (414) 882-8382 or fill out our brief online contact form to schedule a complimentary case analysis.