Why are cases against law enforcement officials so difficult?
Get Legal Help Today
Secured with SHA-256 Encryption
UPDATED: Jan 28, 2009
It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.
We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.
Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about legal topics and insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything legal and insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by experts.
First, almost every convicted criminal claims his or her rights were violated. The courts and public have little sympathy for criminals, and generally their credibility is weak – particularly if they are repeat offenders – when contrasted with law enforcement officials. Where there are videotapes that document the violations – as there were in the Rodney King case — that would be a different story.
Second, law enforcement officials have qualified immunity (as discussed above). Thus the law enforcement official’s conduct must be willful or, at a minimum, reckless in order for someone to be able to sue. Being merely careless (or mildly unreasonable) conduct are not sufficient to allow you to sue.
Third, the official’s conduct must deprive you of a civil right. For example, an officer neglecting to read you your Miranda rights (your right to remain silent and right to counsel) cannot be sued unless you turn over evidence that is used against you by the law enforcement agency.
Fourth, in order to sue for use of excessive force, you must suffer a significant injury. Even if you suffer such an injury, if the law officer’s use of force was justifiable – and you can bet that she will claim it was – a lawsuit will not be successful.