Police Misconduct and Civil Rights Litigation

While most people would agree that having a police force is a necessary part of urban life, they would also agree that police misconduct is simply unacceptable. As an experienced litigator and former prosecutor, John Buza has unique knowledge regarding what the police can and cannot do when they interact with civilians. Moreover, he knows when the police conduct itself becomes criminal and when people can recover financial rewards if they were the victims of police brutality, malicious prosecution, or excessive force. If you, or a loved one, is the victim of police misconduct, do not hesitate to contact John Buza, an experienced attorney, today for a free consultation. See below for more information regarding specific causes of action.

  • False Arrest

A false arrest occurs when the police did not have the legal right to restrain a person. Ordinarily, a legal standard called “probable cause” is used to determine whether the police have the right to place a person under arrest. “Probable cause” simply means there is objective evidence that leads the police to believe that it is more likely than not that the arrestee committed a crime. This standard is very low and it falls considerably lower than the legal standard of “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” which must be used to find a person guilty of crime. A false arrest occurs when the police arrest a person when there was not enough evidence to satisfy this “probable cause” standard.

In determining whether the police had probable cause to arrest someone, a fact-finder (for example, a jury) would put themselves in the shows of the arresting officer and would then determine whether a reasonably intelligent and prudent person would conclude that the arrested person committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime. If the fact-finder makes this determination that a reasonably intelligent and prudent person would make this conclusion, then the police did have probable cause to make the arrest. On other hand, if the fact-finder makes the determination that probable cause was absent at the time the arrest was made, then the person was restrained in violation of his or her constitutional rights.

If a person is restrained in violation of his or her constitutional rights, then the person may be entitled to a financial reward for having his or her liberty taken away without just cause.

  • Malicious Prosecution
A malicious prosecution occurs when the government has no legal right to charge you with a crime, but it did so anyway. In certain instances an individual person can also be sued for malicious prosecution if the person who initially brought the lawsuit had no legal right to do so.

To prevail in a lawsuit for a malicious prosecution, a person needs to show the following three things. He needs to show:
  1. a legal action against the person was instituted or pursued;
  2. it was brought without probable cause; and
  3. the legal action was dismissed in favor of the person whom the malicious prosecution was brought against. 

  • Excessive Force
The police are legally allowed to use a certain amount of force when effecting an arrest. However, the amount of force they use must be reasonably necessary under the specific circumstances. The police are not allowed to use any more force than what is necessary to effectuate the arrest. Excessive force occurs when the police exceed the amount of force necessary to effectuate the arrest. For example, if the police are arresting a person for a crime they believe the person committed and the person fights them off, punches them, and then pulls out a knife, it may be reasonable for a police officer to pepper spray the individual or to otherwise attempt to incapacitate him. However, if the police are arresting a peaceful protestor and they decide to pepper spray the protestor because the individual officer doesn’t like the politics of the protestor, then the force used may be considered excessive irrespective of whether the protestor broke any laws.

If you believe you are the victim of a false arrest, malicious prosecution, or excessive force by the police, you may have the legal right to a financial reward. Contact John Buza, an experienced attorney, today for a free consultation.