December 16, 2020 in Civil Rights
Most states in America, with the exception of 17, offer some form of compensation for a false arrest or imprisonment. Louisiana is one of the states that offer exoneration compensation for the wrongfully convicted. To prove a false arrest, you must prove that the individual who arrested you engaged in constitutional misconduct. Often, this is a law enforcement officer who makes an arrest without the authority to do so. In this post, our Shreveport attorneys at Gordon & Gordon Law Firm inform you what to do after a false arrest.
What is false arrest?
To understand what to do after a false arrest, you should first be familiar with what a false arrest actually entails. A false arrest occurs when a person is unlawfully detained by either a law enforcement officer or a private citizen. A private citizen in this case may be anyone who makes a citizen’s arrest, such as a security guard or store clerk.
A false arrest occurs when a person restrains another individual without the legal justification to do so. If the arrestor had no legal authority to conduct the arrest, they may be liable. It’s important to remember that police cannot simply arrest someone on a whim. They must have probable cause or an arrest warrant to do so. Probable cause must show that the person committed a crime in front of the officer or else gave them reasonable means to believe they committed one.
Even in cases where the officer has a warrant, the arrest can still be unlawful. This occurs in certain cases where the warrant is invalid. An arrest warrant may be invalid if it doesn’t name or identify the person or specify the crime. It may also be invalid if it doesn’t label the court that issued the warrant or a police officer lied to a judge about having probable cause.
The court may not consider all invalid warrants to be cause for a wrongful arrest. The officer that arrested you may defend themselves against a claim by stating that they made the arrest in good faith. Using the good faith defense, the officer may claim that the warrant appeared valid and they genuinely believed it to be. They might also claim that they had reasonable grounds to believe that the warrant was for you.
Can you resist a false arrest?
If you believe you are being arrested under false pretenses, you are able to resist. This does not mean that you should use violence to fight back, but instead tell the officer that the arrest is wrongful. The officer will demand that you provide evidence to support your claim. If you are able to provide evidence that proves it is a false arrest, the officer cannot carry on with the arrest.
If you are unable to provide proof at the time, you should cooperate with the police and wait to ask for an attorney who can prove the false arrest at a later time.
Can you sue for false arrest?
A person who has been falsely arrested has a few legal options they may choose to pursue, including a lawsuit. First, they may choose to file a complaint with the police department against the arresting officer. Doing so could lead to the officer facing repercussions such as suspension, retraining, or even termination. There are even some extreme cases where they may face criminal charges.
In the case that the victim received a criminal charge during a false arrest, they may also file a motion to suppress whatever evidence the police obtained. This motion would go through the court during the victim’s criminal proceedings. Any evidence that prosecutors might have once used against them may be no longer be viable.
As for a lawsuit, a citizen can file for civil rights violations against the police department and arresting officer for either an injunction or monetary damages. You may file the suit in either your state court or the federal court. If you demand an injunction, the court may require that the police department retrain, suspend, or fire the officer or change their official arresting policies.
If you demand monetary damages for your false arrest, your attorney will aim to collect compensation for the time you spent in prison. This may include medical bills (from unnecessary, excessive force), lost wages, pain and suffering (mental anguish), and presumed damages. Presumed damages refer to damages recovered for the violation of the victim’s civil rights that took place.
Should you choose to seek monetary damages, you should expect the process to be much more difficult than your other options. This is generally because of qualified immunity, which defends government officials (such as law enforcement officers) against lawsuits filed over conduct that occurred on duty.
How much can I sue for false arrest?
Now that you know what to do after a false arrest, you probably want to know how much you can get for it. How much you are able to obtain in a false or wrongful arrest lawsuit depends on several factors. First, it depends on the state in which the incident occurred. In places like New York, victims of wrongful detention can receive up to $7,700 per incarcerated hour. Previous cases reveal awards of up to $625,000 total in this state.
The state of Louisiana also offers exoneration compensation, though not nearly as much. The state cuts off the award amount at $250,000. An innocent New Orleans man named Malcolm Alexander spent 36 years behind bars before becoming exonerated. Should he receive the max amount for exoneration compensation, that’s just under $7,000 for each year in prison.
Either the victim themselves or their family can file the lawsuit. However, remember that just because you were later found to be innocent of a crime doesn’t mean you have a valid claim for false arrest. You must be able to prove that the arrest occurred in an unlawful manner.
False Arrest Lawsuit
Let’s say, for example, a police officer pulls you over for driving with a broken taillight. After the law enforcement officer writes a ticket, he or she tells you that you aren’t allowed to leave until a drug-sniffing K-9 unit arrives. Because there was unlawful restraint on your freedom, this would be an example of a false arrest.
If someone did not have probable cause or legal authority to arrest you but did so anyway, the arrest is unlawful and you have the grounds to file a false arrest lawsuit.
Under the federal law 42 U.S. Code § 1983, there is no statute of limitations set specifically for a false arrest lawsuit. Instead, each state uses their own statute of limitations that applies to personal injury cases. The Louisiana statute of limitations grants the victim one year to file a personal injury claim. Thus, Louisiana residents have one year following the date of the false arrest to file a claim with the court.
False Arrest Lawyer
If you have been the victim of a false arrest or false imprisonment and would like to file a civil rights lawsuit, contact Shreveport attorneys Gordon & Gordon today. At Gordon & Gordon Law Firm L.L.C., we serve the entire Ark-La-Tex and beyond. We’ll meet you at your home, place of business, hospital room, or place of imprisonment. Give us a call at 318-716-HELP or fill out our online form here to get Gordon & Gordon working for you. We will provide a free consultation to help you better understand what to do after a false arrest.