All police officers in Texas must take an oath swearing to execute the duties of their position faithfully and uphold the Constitution. But there are times where police officers fail in this responsibility. They abuse their power and act illegally and unethically. Police misconduct refers to these situations where a police officer performing official duties violates an individual’s constitutional rights or commits an illegal act.
Sometimes, as in the death of Eric Garner, the police officer’s misconduct becomes national news. However, police misconduct does not only involve unjustified use of lethal force. It can take many different forms, and most instances of police misconduct garner very little attention.
To ensure that your rights are protected, it is important to understand what actions are covered under police misconduct. Below are ten examples of police misconduct that occur in Frisco, Texas.
- Excessive Force
Police officers are only allowed to use the amount of force necessary to respond to the situation and protect the safety of themselves and others. Whether the amount of force used is reasonable is based on all the facts and circumstances known at the time. Excessive force can be direct, such as chokes, takedowns, kicks, punches, and the use of batons. It can also be indirect, such as pepper spray, tear gas, tasers, and gunshots. Excessive force by the police can lead to severe injury and even death.
- False Arrest
Police in Frisco cannot arrest anyone they want. There must be probable cause or a warrant before police can arrest you. Otherwise, it is considered a false arrest. Probable cause is determined on a case-by-case basis and means that there were sufficient facts for a reasonable law enforcement officer to believe that a crime was committed. False arrests violate an individual’s Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure.
- Illegal Search and Seizure
Most searches require law enforcement to get a warrant from a court beforehand. A warrant is issued when there is probable cause that a crime is present. There are exceptions to the warrant requirement, but these are limited. For example, no warrant is needed if the evidence is in plain sight or is about to be destroyed. If a law enforcement officer performs an illegal search seizure, it violates your Fourth Amendment right under the U.S. Constitution.
- Falsification of Evidence
It is illegal for police officers to knowingly offer or prepare false, fabricated, or tainted evidence in a legal proceeding. Police officers could do this by creating a false report or planting evidence at a crime scene.
- Witness Tampering
Witness tampering is when police try to make a person testify falsely or withhold information. Typically, law enforcement will either offer bribes or makes threats to the witness or their family. Bribes often include promises of leniency in their own criminal cases, money, or release from custody. In some cases, police threaten witnesses with physical violence or criminal charges.
Often, one of the witnesses in a criminal case is the police officer himself. When police officers are on the witness stand, they must tell the truth. It is police misconduct if they lie and give false testimony.
- Racial Profiling
Police are afforded significant discretion in their jobs, but they are not allowed to discriminate based on race. It is illegal for police to target individuals for stops, searches, and arrests based solely on race instead of any actual behavior that indicates criminal activity.
- Sexual Abuse
One way that police abuse their position of power is through sexual abuse. Both individuals in and out of police custody suffer from sexual abuse at the hands of law enforcement officers. The officer will often use threats of jail time if you report or refuse the abuse, making it difficult for victims to come forward.
- False Imprisonment
False imprisonment occurs when an officer intentionally restricts your movement within an area without legal authority, justification, or consent. This could happen if you were locked in a room or police car and did not believe that you could leave.
- Coerced False Confessions
Sometimes police in Frisco will get an individual to admit to a crime that they did not commit. There have been numerous cases of people exonerated, often by DNA evidence, who offered a false confession. Tactics used by the police to extract a false confession often include persuasion, intimidation, or other psychological coercion.
Your Frisco Criminal Defense Attorney
Victims of police misconduct are protected under the law. If you think that your rights were violated, you should contact the Law Offices of Philip D. Ray. It may be possible to file a lawsuit and recover damages. Philip D. Ray is an experienced Frisco attorney who will make sure that your rights are protected. Call Philip D. Ray today to schedule a consultation at (214) 845-7987.