Washington DC Police Brutality Lawyers Explains Wrongful Arrest Lawsuits
False arrest, wrongful imprisonment and wrongful conviction are closely related civil rights violations that are often the result of police misconduct. State and federal laws require that law enforcement officers have reasonable cause to arrest and/or imprison you. Additionally, you cannot be held for an extended period of time without a trial. Nevertheless, these violations do happen. You may find your basic freedoms denied if the police act outside of their powers. In some cases, false arrest may also lead to wrongful conviction, especially if misconduct like falsification or fabrication of evidence plays a role. In the worst cases, innocent individuals may be in prison for years or decades without cause. However, you may be able to hold negligent law enforcement and other government agencies accountable for misconduct through a civil lawsuit.
Nothing is more important to a person than his or her freedom. However, at Regan Zambri Long PLLC, our attorneys understand civil rights violations like wrongful imprisonment do happen. In fact, innocent persons are sometimes sent to prison for crimes they did not commit. We have represented numerous innocent citizens who have been wrongfully imprisoned, including three individuals who were unjustly imprisoned for several decades for a murder they did not commit. We obtained certificates of innocence for two of these individuals as well as a substantial financial settlement from the U.S. government.
What Is the Difference Between False Arrest and Wrongful Imprisonment?
Police misconduct can lead to several different types of closely related civil rights violations. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to file a lawsuit for false arrest, wrongful imprisonment and/or wrongful conviction. The differences between these types of violations are:
- False arrest occurs when the police take you into custody without a warrant and without probable cause. This kind of rights violation often results from profiling based on race, appearance or other unrelated factors. Filing a civil lawsuit can be difficult, since law enforcement may cite a number of factors as probable cause for the arrest. However, if police brutality or excessive force factored into the false arrest, then a successful claim is more likely.
- Wrongful imprisonment occurs when any entity, including the police, detains you against your will and without authority and/or cause. For example, after an arrest, you must have a hearing within 48 hours. If you do not receive a hearing and the police keep you in custody, then you may be able to sue for wrongful imprisonment. Additionally, wrongful imprisonment does not necessarily involve an actual arrest. It is enough that you believe you are not free to leave based on an officer’s word and/or show of force.
- Wrongful conviction occurs when you are found guilty of a crime that you did not commit. Often, this happens as a result of misconduct on the part of the police and/or the prosecutor’s office. Wrongful conviction often goes hand in hand with wrongful imprisonment, since you may serve an unjustified prison sentence.
Since these three terms are so closely related, they are sometimes used interchangeably to describe police misconduct. However, if the police wrongfully arrest and/or imprison you, then you may be entitled to compensation through a civil lawsuit.
When Can You Sue for Wrongful Imprisonment?
Not every instance of false arrest may be grounds for a wrongful imprisonment lawsuit, especially since the laws regarding probable cause is somewhat vague. Generally, you may be able to file a civil claim for police misconduct and wrongful imprisonment if:
- There was no probable cause for your arrest.
- No officer read you your Miranda Rights.
- The basis of the arrest was a warrant based on false information.
- The arrest resulted from racial discrimination or discrimination of any kind.
- There was no justification or legal basis for the arrest, such as a warrant.
Victims of wrongful imprisonment frequently suffer substantial physical injuries requiring expensive medical treatment and rehabilitation. However, you may claim compensation for these financial losses and damages through a civil lawsuit. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to recover damages for:
- Humiliation and embarrassment
- Physical pain and mental anguish caused by the incarceration
- Injuries as a result of excessive force
- Illness caused by wrongful imprisonment
- Lost wages
- Damage to your reputation
- Punitive damages
Wrongful imprisonment litigation is one of the most challenging areas of law. Each jurisdiction has its own complex rules regarding the process for filing this kind of civil claim. For example, the type of notice you give to the responsible government and its agencies may vary. In addition, wrongful imprisonment cases often trigger a wide variety of claims based on rights guaranteed by state constitutions, federal statutes, and the United States Constitution. Therefore, if you believe you have grounds for a claim, then you should always consult with a wrongful arrest lawyer.
Need Police Brutality Lawyers? Call Our Washington DC Law Firm Now
If a police officer in Washington DC, Maryland or Virginia wrongfully arrested and/or imprisoned you, then you may be able to file a civil lawsuit. However, lawsuits against the government can be difficult, since they often follow different rules. For example, the time in which you must file your claim may be much shorter than the statute of limitations for regular personal injury claims.
Our attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience and have handled several high-profile cases involving wrongful imprisonment. Call (202) 463-3030 or contact us online today to schedule a free initial consultation.