Frequently Asked Questions: Police Misconduct
What should one say if questioned by the police?
“Officer (So and so), please let me know if I am under arrest. If I am not under arrest, I wish to leave. In either case, I do not consent to any search of my person, property, premises or location. I wish to remain silent and have my attorney present during any questioning, lineup or search of my person, property, premises or location. If you ignore that I am exercising my rights or attempt to obtain a waiver of such rights, then I wish to talk to my attorney before any conversation with any law enforcement agent, especially concerning the subject of waiver. If I am arrested for DUII, I will consider taking the breath test but I would like to call an attorney regarding this matter. However, I do not want to answer any questions.”
What should I do if questioned by the police? Stay calm and be respectful and polite. Write down the name of the officer and the badge number. If the officer refuses to give you his/her name and badge number document this in writing. You can also get the plate number of the police car. Do not resist arrest, even if you are being wrongfully arrested.
Why should I be polite and respectful to those in law enforcement? You should be polite and respectful to anyone holding a gun! If they shoot you and nobody has a video camera and there are no witnesses, your side of the story is unlikely to be heard. Additionally, If you are not polite with the police, you greatly diminish your chance for recovering in a civil case against the police, as your credibility will be diminished in front of the jury. Additionally, clients who are rude to the police are inevitably rude to their attorney’s and make a poor impression in front of the jury. Most attorneys, including myself, have enough business that we don’t need to accept clients whom are less than polite. With some exceptions, you have a first amendment right to be rude. I also have the right not to work for you and not to accept your case and a jury has the right to award you very little money, even if the police were in the wrong.
What kind of police misconduct cases do you accept?
Wrongful Arrests: I accept wrongful arrests where the police do not have probable cause to make an arrest. Sometimes police negligently fail to properly identify a person before making an arrest. Sometimes the negligence is on the part of a city, county or state worker who fails to properly input data in a database.
Excessive Use of Force / Deadly Force: I also accept cases involving excessive use of force. In order to have an excessive force case you must be able to show that the police used excessive force in relation to the circumstances and that you were injured as a result of the excessive force.
False Imprisonment: Sometimes the police have probable cause to arrest someone but evidence later shows that the person is innocent. In these cases, a person should be immediately released. For instance, if a person were to fail the field sobriety tests for a DUII, there may be probable cause for the police to make an initial arrest. However, if that person were to later pass a breath and urine test, then the person should be released in a timely manner.
Strong Evidence: I prefer clients who have a clean criminal record because model citizens usually make better witnesses. I also prefer cases in which my clients have good evidence documenting their claim. In a civil case, the plaintiff has the burden of proof, meaning that if you make a claim against the police, you have to PROVE your claim. Good evidence documenting someone’s claim may include unbiased witnesses, videos, photos, admissions in police reports, doctor’s reports stating that the injuries are caused by the police misconduct, etcetera.
Other: I will consider other types of actions in relation to the police, city, county or state too. Sometimes potential clients call me and complain that they want to file a lawsuit because the police were rude to them. Rude words or behavior alone usually do not rise to the level of a lawsuit. There is no constitutional right to polite governmental service. Please don’t waste my time with frivolous complaints about the police exercising their first amendment right to be rude. Expect the police to be rude and be thankful for their rude honesty. If an officer is polite to you be thankful, yet wary of his/her ulterior motive. Anytime anyone from the government claims they are there to help you, be cautious.
What is the statute of limitations for a tort claim in the state of Oregon? Tort claims in Oregon that do not involve a death generally have a two-year statute of limitations. See ORS 12.110. Beware that you also have to get in tort claim notice against any governmental agency within 180 days.
Disclaimer: Any legal information on this site is not necessarily updated in a timely manner; neither is it a substitute for a legal analysis in relation to your case. I do not represent you and I am not your lawyer, unless you have a fee agreement with me.