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Cochran Firm Blog, Philadelphia

The Police Misconduct Provision

Federal Criminal Versus Civil Cases

There are federal laws in place that address police misconduct on both the criminal and civil levels that protect all persons in the United States. In a criminal case, the case filed with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is brought against the accused person, whereas in a civil case, the case is brought against a governmental authority or law enforcement agency. In terms of resolution in a criminal case, the wrongdoer is often punished for their misconduct through imprisonment. In a civil case though, the law enforcement agency’s policies or practices are sought to be corrected and may also include individual relief for the victim.

What is the Police Misconduct Provision?

The Police Misconduct Provision is a civil statute that makes it unlawful for State or local law enforcement officers to engage in a pattern or practice of conduct that deprives persons of rights protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States. The most common claims brought under this provision include excessive force, discriminatory harassment, false arrests, and unlawful stops or searches. In order for the “Police Misconduct Provision” to be applicable, the misconduct must constitute a “pattern or practice.” In other words, the misconduct cannot just be an isolated incident.It’s crucial to understand mistakes to avoid when interacting with police, as these interactions can sometimes contribute to or exacerbate such patterns of misconduct. Solely under this law, there are no individual remedies available for the victim. Rather, the agency or entity will be ordered to change policies and/or procedures that allowed the misconduct.

Remedy Qualifying Civil Statutes

Although the Police Misconduct Provision alone does not allow for individual remedies for the victim or victims, there are other civil statutes that do qualify the victim(s) for monetary remedies. Those that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, and religion may result in both the change of policies or procedures, and individual remedial relief. The laws pertaining to such discrimination includes Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and the OJP Program Statute. Also, discrimination against individuals with disabilities may result in a monetary remedy for the victim or victims. Laws concerning disability discrimination include Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Filing a Police Misconduct Complaint

Should you become a victim of police misconduct, either under criminal or civil enforcement, you will need to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice. Sometimes you will need to file additional reports to other groups as well, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). You will need to include as much information as possible in your complaint, including a detailed description of the misconduct, names and contact information of any witnesses, the origins of the misconduct, and your own contact information.

Contact Us Today

Navigating the correct police misconduct claim and to the correct party can be confusing. You deserve someone on your side who is both intimately familiar with state and federal laws, and fully devoted to helping you get maximum compensation. At The Cochran Firm Philadelphia, we recognize the worth of each individual and are prepared to work personally with you to make sure you are fully protected and ultimately granted every penny you deserve. Call us today at 1-800-THE-FIRM for a free case evaluation.