In recent years, accusations of police using excessive force have become the subject of widespread national discussion. In many of these cases, the targets themselves or their families and communities have spoken out and urged lawmakers to tighten the laws overseeing police interactions with suspects and individuals.
The Supreme Court recently introduced qualified immunity, which creates a tougher standard for examining the constitutionality of extreme policing methods involving excessive force. This, in turn, makes it more difficult to prosecute officers who are accused of overstepping their bounds.
It’s important for every civilian to understand their rights in a police interaction, and although the worst-case scenario in an officer-involved incident is now more difficult for civilians to bring to court, there are still legal protections in place to protect people from incidents of malicious prosecution or false arrest by police.
Profiling can lead to injustice
Black and Latinx communities have frequently felt the disproportionate effects of racial profiling, which the New York legislature banned statewide in 2015. However, there has been a steady stream of complaints of profiling by watchdogs and people who were interrogated via New York City’s controversial “Stop-and-Frisk” program.
While the program has gone through revisions over the years, problematic issues have persisted, like a former NYPD detective’s testimony that cops planted drugs on people to meet routine quotas.
Malicious prosecution includes planting evidence on a person or at the scene of a crime, raid, or police encounter. It can also include:
- Wrongful use of a search warrant
- Misidentifying a suspect or arresting the wrong person
- Coercing a false confession
These problems can lead to unjustified apprehension or detention, and in the worst cases, can be dangerous for innocent people who are victimized by these actions. If an officer violates the law in the process of an arrest, the charges may be dropped if the violations can be proven.
There is still hope
It may feel like the justice system’s scales are heavily tipped in favor of police, but with robust legal representation, it’s possible to build a case to help protect individual rights and hold police accountable.