A false drug arrest falls under the category of a wrongful arrest or false imprisonment, and occurs when someone wrongfully holds you against your will or takes you into custody for drugs. Many false arrests usually starts out as a false accusation, in which an unfounded or unsubstantiated allegation is made against a person. False allegations occur as the result of intentional lying or unintentional circumstances involving faulty information. It can also occur because of deliberate or accidental suggestive questioning, or faulty interviewing techniques.
False arrest and, in some circumstance, faulty allegations, are crimes and a civil harm, enabling the victim to sue for damages in a civil lawsuit.
Police Committing False Arrests
Most people think that when police commit false arrest, they usually have a severe lack of evidence—but this is not the standard. Both private persons and law enforcement agents can commit this crime when they act beyond or outside of the scope of their authority. An example would be if a police officer arrests someone because that person insulted the officer or did something the officer didn’t like. Since it is not illegal to insult an officer, the officer is the one who is acting illegally. In this situation, it is possible, though highly unlikely, that a prosecutor could charge the officer involved with false arrest.
It should be noted that the defendant has no right to resist arrest, even though they knew that the basis for the arrest was untrue. Physically resisting such an arrest might land the defendant in hot water, and it is for this reason that most criminal defense attorneys counsel their client never to physically resist an arrest. Doing so can easily result in you being harmed, arrested, and jailed, because only a court can decide if an arrest is legal or illegal. Save the fight for the courtroom.
Private Persons Committing False Arrests
Anyone who restrains someone else without that person’s consent and without lawful authority commits the crime of false arrest, which includes private persons like a security guard. Private security guards are legally allowed to temporarily detain someone suspected of theft in order to investigate the situation or hold that person until the police arrive, but only if they are reasonably certain that the person is shoplifting.
Suppose, however, that a security guard approaches a shopper and didn’t see the shopper exit with unpaid merchandise (nor did anyone else). If he were to use force, the threat of force, or otherwise restricts the shopper without consent or lawful reason, the guard is committing false imprisonment.
The Difference between False Arrests and Bad Arrests
Imagine someone whom the police arrest based on another person’s sworn statement. The evidence later shows the sworn statement was untrue or the person flat-out lied. If the police arrest the person on a warrant issued as a result of fabricated statements, this is known as a “bad arrest.”
You see, as long as the judge found the statement reasonable at the time, the police acted properly in making the arrest. If a court finds out the truth, the defendant is set free. In this situation, there is no way the released defendant can sue the police for unlawful arrest; however, the person making the false allegations can be sued for any harm suffered, in addition to being arrested and imprisoned for swearing a false oath.
You Can Sue for False Accusations
The effect of false accusations can be devastating to a person’s reputation. Common types of false allegations involve child abuse, drug abuse, or really the commission of any crime. A victim of false allegation can sue for defamation, which may either be in the form of slander, libel or defamation of character.
Defamation of character concerns the act of making false statements about a person which blemishes or tarnishes his/her reputation. Defamation of character can either be libel or slander. Slander is an untrue statement made with the purpose of harming an individual reputation. In order to be successful in court, the individual must have made the statements maliciously to harm the reputation of a person for their own personal reasons. Libel means any false and malicious printed statements with the intent of ruin someone’s reputation. Like slander, to prove libel in court it has to be shown that the printed allegations were not only insulting and offensive but also made in malice.
False accusation is considered by the courts to be in the defamatory category, and damages for such false statements are presumed and do not have to be proven. You can successfully sue someone for falsely accusing you of acts that did not take place or actions which did transpired but you are falsely being accused. These persons can include police officers that acted without probable cause or anyone who acts with malicious intent. The issue of false allegation in the criminal sphere is so serious that proof of loss does not have to be shown by the victim before they can receive damages.
Violating a Civil Right
When someone has been falsely arrested, they sometimes file a complaint alleging a violation of their civil rights, otherwise known as “Section 1983” suits. They are called this because they are named after the federal law, United States code section 1983, and because of this they are tried in federal district court.
People most commonly file 1983 cases after the use of excessive or unreasonable force while acting in their official capacity, known as acting “under color of law.” If the police, for example, obtain a search warrant to search your home and, while conducting the search, decide to use mace on you and your family while you were compliant, their excessive force violated your constitutional civil rights and you can sue them. If, however, you get into a fight with a non-uniformed, off-duty police officer, that officer is probably not acting as an agent of the state and you probably can’t sue for civil rights violations.
You Need a Lawyer
If you believe you’ve been detained, involved in a drug arrest without basis, or if you believe the police are acting outside their proper authority, you need to speak to an Omaha criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. You should never make any statements or file a complaint with police or investigators until you’ve had a chance to speak to an attorney. If you believe your rights have been violated because of a false drug arrest, or you need someone to represent you against criminal charges, contact criminal defense attorney Daniel Stockmann as soon as possible.