One of the areas of law that we practice is in the areas of civil rights. This could include police misconduct or abuse. Police officers are essentially agents of the state, they are always employed by the municipality and thus the fourth amendment of the constitution is applicable in the terms of the right to be free from unlawful arrest also called false arrest and malicious prosecution which is basically a prosecution done from malice and without a probable cause. You also have the right to be free from excessive force, for example during an arrest to not have unnecessary force used against you in order to restrain you during that process.
These areas of law are also very fact dependent. Often times you will find that police officers are cloaked with what is called immunity from prosecution which means they have certain defenses that they can assert, which will prevent them from even being a sue able party. Sometimes there are lawsuits that can be brought for these types of claims against the individual officer as well as against the police department itself or the town, city, village that runs that police department in Westchester County. These questions that always center around the particular facts and circumstances of the arrest, whether probable cause exists is a very fact intensive inquiry and certainly one of the key elements.
The biggest piece of information that I think needs to be understood is based on the outcome of the arrest and the prosecution, you may or may not have a claim and often times plea bargains are offered. You have the assistance of criminal counsel of course in that situation and whether or not you should accept the plea and take. For instances, some type of a reduced trial and go to court or run the risk of having a higher level crime being found against you but those decisions often times are made without consulting a civil rights attorney and we get questions often times from clients who have been the subject of arrest and prosecution and maybe they took a plea and the question becomes does that extinguish my right to go after the officer for false arrest? In some cases it can, so often times its important while in the midst of a criminal process to seek the advice of a civil rights attorney in Westchester County, so that any decision that you make can be done in conjunction both with your criminal and your civil attorney in a way that is going to leave you as much option or opportunity that you want down the road to possibly bring that claim.
This informational blog post was provided by Kim Berg, an experienced White Plains, New York Civil Rights Lawyer.