Know Your Civil Rights Against Police Abuse

Civil Rights Police Abuse is a problem.  Regardless of your position on recent national events, it is imperative that you understand your civil rights.  This purpose of this post is to inform citizens of their right to be free from false arrest.


Understanding The Requirements For False Arrest

Both The Constitution of the United States of America and New York Law protect citizens against false arrest.  In other words, police are legally prohibited from making false arrests.  The first requirement of a lawful arrest is the existence of probable cause.  Probable cause is a legal term of art meaning “a reasonable suspicion.”  This reasonable suspicion is not the same thing as a reasonable doubt (another legal term most individuals are familiar with).   “Beyond a reasonable doubt” is the burden of proof required of the prosecution in a criminal court.  The reasonable suspicion meaning of probable cause is a far lower standard of proof than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard.  To make it less abstract, you can understand probable cause, under both the U.S. Constitution and New York Law, as the rule that prevents a police officer from arresting or detaining someone for no reason.  In other words, to pull you over in your car or stop you on the street, a police officer must reasonably suspect that you have broken the law or are in the midst of breaking the law.  The word “reasonable” is analyzed from an objective standard – not from the particular officer’s own unique thought process.  In addition to the Constitutional probable cause requirement, a false arrest has occurred under New York when these 4 elements are proved:


1 The police intentionally confined you

2 You were consciously aware of the confinement

3 You did not consent to the confinement

4 The police did not have the right to confine you.


The first element speaks to intent.  Intent can be measured by words or actions or a combination.  For example, intent to confine could be expressed by a police officer speaking the words “you are under arrest.”  Similarly, intent to confine could be expressed by a police officer saying nothing, and instead physically restraining you, handcuffing you, and detaining you in a police vehicle or station.

The second element goes to your actual awareness of the confinement.  You do not have to be harmed by the confinement (harm is presumed), but you must be conscious of it.  So, then, if you are asleep or unconscious (due to intoxication, for example), you are not consciously aware.

The third element implies a defense to a charge of false imprisonment.  If you freely agree to be detained by a police officer, a false arrest has not occurred.  Importantly, however, a coerced (forced) consent is not valid consent.  The police cannot get you to consent by threatening you – consent by threat is not real consent.

The fourth element is equivalent to the Constitutional probable cause requirement, meaning, the police did not have probable cause (or a warrant) to arrest you.

If your civil rights have been violated by a false arrest in the state of New York, contact an experienced and passionate civil rights attorney immediately.