A false arrest occurs when police arrest someone without probable cause to arrest them. Probable cause is a very low standard in the law. It means that a person might have committed a crime, not that they definitely did. As long as the officer has some reason to suspect that a crime was committed, and especially if that officer has a warrant that was issued by a judge, it’s going to be very difficult to bring a claim for false arrest. Malicious prosecution is a related doctrine that perhaps has some more potential power. That is a circumstance where you can show that there was not only a lack of probable cause or reasonable grounds to believe the allegations that were made against an individual but there was malice in continuing a criminal or civil legal proceeding.
We handle both malicious prosecution and false-arrest cases. Sometimes, we are able to prove malice by showing that there was an unconstitutional motive behind why it is that the person is wrongly accused. For example, they were exercising their First Amendment rights. This might be where someone is being questioned by police officers and they choose to remain silent. They might be required to give their name but beyond that, they start mouthing off and saying obnoxious things to the officer, and refuse to answer any other questions. It is still constitutionally protected behavior.
As Americans, we have a First Amendment right to criticize our government and that includes police officers. While it may not be wise to run your mouth to a police officer who is carrying a badge and a gun, we have a right to do that. There are instances where you see officers get angry and then wrongfully arrest someone who has criticized them. Those are instances in which we see false arrests and malicious prosecution come up.
How Long Can Police Legally Hold Someone Without Pressing Any Charges?
The rules regarding holding a suspect vary significantly by the jurisdiction. The issue of whether it’s unconstitutional to hold someone for very long is going to be determined on a case-by-case basis.
When Can Police Enter A Building Conduct An Investigation And Make An Arrest Without A Warrant?
There are doctrines known as hot pursuit and exigent circumstances, where an officer who is in hot pursuit of someone to protect the public may be given a pass on conducting a warrantless pursuit and entry. In general, to enter the building and make an arrest, the officer is supposed to be outside of the building and arrange for a warrant to be obtained.
What Is The Statute Of Limitations On Cases Against Law Enforcement?
The statute of limitations for all constitutional litigation, civil-rights litigation, or federal claims for violation of the federal constitution is tied to the analogous statute of limitations for that state. In Ohio, the statute of limitations for personal injury is two years and therefore, the statute of limitations for bringing a federal civil-rights action under Title 42, Section 1983 of the United States Code is two years from whatever the date of the incident is. There are important state-law causes of action that we use in such cases that have only a one-year statute of limitations, however. So we really want people to call us early.
People need to speak with an attorney as soon as possible after the incident occurs. If they do so, it enables us to methodically investigate the case and seek, fight for, and obtain public records that will help prove the claim. If we can’t, we are going to lose important state-law causes of action. Everyone who has been the victim of unconstitutional conduct needs to act as quickly as possible. If they are going to contact an attorney they should gather as much documentation as they can of what has occurred. They shouldn’t assume that experienced, accomplished attorneys are available to just drop everything and look at it; it is going to take some time to analyze it and come up with a recommendation.