Even if you have been arrested, you still reserve the same exact constitutional rights as any other person, citizen or not. Unfortunately, there are times our law enforcement ignores these rights. The reality is, police misconduct happens all too often – including here in Murrietta & throughout San Bernadino County – and is a serious matter that makes a strong impact on victims as well as their families. Misconduct, denial of our civil rights, and other forms of abuse of power undermines our Constitution. The primary purpose of our Constitution is to protect its citizens from government abuse and corruption. Our civil rights allow affected parties to enforce their rights through recovering compensatory and punitive damages.
What is Police Misconduct?
Police misconduct involves inappropriate treatment from police officers in connection to their official duties. Misconduct may lead to injustice and often times includes violation of the police department’s purpose of administering justice. Some examples of mistreatment include excessive physical or deadly force, wrongly arresting victims using discrimination, verbal or physical harassment, or being particular with the laws they choose to implement.
Types of Police Misconduct:
There are several types of police misconduct involving law enforcement whether they are on or off-duty. Some examples of these civil rights violations include:
- Selective law enforcement
These cases occur when government officials such as police officers or regulators exercise the power to choose whether or not to punish a person who has violated the law. Officials choosing which laws to enforce is unfair treatment and considered an act of misconduct. In some cases, however, selective enforcement is desirable. For instance, selective enforcement is tolerable when an officer issues a verbal warning for a minor traffic violation or is unable to give speeding tickets to every driver going past the speed limit.
- Witness tampering
Witness tampering, a common type of misconduct, is a behavior that concerns an officer who tries to alter an individual’s testimony or when an officer who prevents an individual from testifying in a proceeding. An officer attempting to alter or prevent testimony is sufficient evidence for a witness tampering charge.
- Failure to intervene
Any officer that allows a fellow colleague to violate a victim’s civil rights are subject to prosecution for failure to intervene any constitutional violation. The government must be able to prove the accused officer was aware of the violation, had the opportunity to interject, and failed to do so.
- Sexual misconduct
Charges of sexual misconduct describe police actions that involve sexual harassment, extortion, or forcible rape. Unfortunately, sexual predation by our law enforcement happens far more often than people are willing to admit. About 66.67% of all sexual assaults that occur in America are never reported.
- False confessions
Surprisingly, more than 1 out of every 4 people are wrongfully convicted by making a false confession or incriminating statement. Officers who are convinced of a suspect’s guilt may persuade them to plead guilty to something they did not do using harsh interrogation tactics such as threats or torture. Often times individuals result to making false confessions because they believe failing to comply with the police would prove worse consequences.
- Racial profiling
Racial profiling has continued to be a pressing issue in our country despite our constitutional rights to equal treatment. The police may be perceived as oppressors to portions of the population and cause a separation due to differences in race, religion, or politics. There is a perception that victims of profiling belong to racial or cultural minority groups, the disabled, and the lower class.
Importance of Video or Audio Recording Misconduct
With the new generation of mobile devices and apps, recording evidence of inappropriate conduct has become easier and easier. Together, the people can work to monitor and ensure our law officers are doing their jobs correctly and upholding our civil rights. Phone recordings alone have shown more examples of police misconduct than anyone could have imagined, especially in police brutality cases. Actual footage or audio recordings help provide concrete evidence and has increased the public’s awareness of their own rights and the boundaries of their own actions. For example, a witness is authorized to videotape an officer’s conduct in any situation as long as they are in a public place and are not interfering with the officer’s actions. Interfering with the incident regardless if the officer’s actions are improper may hinder the witness’ case. A police officer automatically complies to being recorded when performing his or her daily duty in public.
What to do if the Police Violates Your Civil Rights
- Write the everything down in full detail immediately following the incident
- Consult with a police misconduct attorney
- File a police misconduct report
We must hold our police force accountable for any misconduct to protect the people against corruption and injustice. Take legal action and get the justice you deserve today by calling for a free consultation with a specialized police misconduct lawyer at Khashan Law. Our team of experienced attorneys in San Bernadino County work hard to fight and successfully seek justice for numerous victims of police misconduct in Murietta and surrounding areas of Southern California.