Police Misconduct

Civil Rights Attorneys Representing Residents of Chicago

Police officers have a duty to protect the life and property of citizens, in addition to a constitutional obligation to refrain from illegal searches and seizures as well as the infliction of cruel and unusual punishment. Unfortunately, some members of law enforcement may disregard the constitutional rights provided to people suspected or formally accused of a crime, resulting in serious injuries and sometimes a tragic death. If you or a loved one has been a victim of this misconduct, a criminal defense attorney can advise you about your options and advocate for your rights. The Chicago police misconduct lawyers at the Joel Gould Law Offices are here to seek the justice that you deserve.

Bringing a Claim Based on Police Misconduct in Illinois

There are many ways that police officers may abuse their powers and violate the rights of citizens, of which excessive force is among the most common. Excessive force may happen during an arrest, such as when an officer uses a Taser, baton, or deadly force when the use of such force was not necessary under the circumstances. Police chases may also result in claims of misconduct when they cause harm to either the accused or innocent bystanders. As with other civil lawsuits, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff to prove that the defendant police officer or officers exercised excessive force in a given situation. In turn, the officer may assert that he or she is entitled to the defense of qualified immunity, which protects governmental officials from liability as long as they do not violate a clearly established constitutional or statutory right.

In order to overcome the qualified immunity defense and prevail in a civil rights claim, the plaintiff must prove that the officer intentionally used unconstitutionally excessive force. However, only the officer’s action must have been deliberate. The plaintiff is not required to show that the officer intended a particular consequence. In deciding whether a given use of force was objectively reasonable, the jury must consider the perspective of a reasonable officer in the same situation.

In addition to excessive force cases, cruel and unusual punishment cases may be pursued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. These claims require the plaintiff to show that the defendant used force (or displayed deliberate indifference) against him or her in a malicious manner for the purpose of causing harm and that the plaintiff actually suffered harm as a result of the officer’s action. The jury may consider whether the officer’s infliction of pain on the plaintiff was based on a threat reasonably perceived by the officer, as well as whether the officer made any effort to temper the severity of the action that hurt the plaintiff. Cruel and unusual punishment claims may arise in an Eighth Amendment context for people who are in penal detention or in a substantive due process context for other claimants.

Other forms of police misconduct may occur during a criminal investigation or prosecution, such as an unlawful search or seizure, a false arrest, threats or intimidation, falsification of evidence, or sexual assault. Police misconduct may also play a role in the defense of an Illinois resident against whom criminal charges have been filed. Sometimes the issue of police misconduct may be simultaneously explored in both a criminal matter and a civil rights lawsuit.

Consult a Police Misconduct Lawyer in the Chicago Area

With over 35 years of experience representing the criminally accused in Illinois, the Chicago police misconduct attorneys at the Joel Gould Law Offices are keenly aware that law enforcement officials often overstep the bounds of the law in an effort to make an arrest or secure a conviction. People who have been harmed by this unlawful behavior should explore the possibility of pursing compensation from an officer or law enforcement agency. For a free consultation with a criminal defense or injury attorney, call the Joel Gould Law Offices at (773) 281-8744 or contact us online. We represent people across Cook, Kane, Will, DuPage, McHenry, and Lake Counties. Mówimy Po Polsku!

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