September 24, 2021 | Police Misconduct
Cops in Cincinnati, Ohio, do many illegal things. An illegal police action could be a violation of a statute or, more frequently, a violation of the United States Constitution.
Courts have interpreted the meaning of the constitution and Bill of Rights since they were written. These court opinions (called case law) have the force of law and provide many protections from the police beyond what is in the plain text of the constitution. These protections are complex, and there are tens of thousands of pages written about your rights by the courts.
In this article, we examine the three most common types of illegal actions by police that can be used to help defend our clients.
The police must follow strict rules when they search a person, vehicle, or residence. Each of these unique situations has its own unique level of “suspicion” required to conduct a lawful search.
Police can conduct a search if they have:
Reasonable suspicion that a crime is or was occurring is usually the standard to stop a person in public and conduct a weapons pat-down. Probable cause is what is typically required to search a vehicle. Police generally are required to obtain a search warrant signed by a judge to have the authorization to search a residence.
When police don’t have enough suspicion for a search, any evidence they find in the illegal search can be thrown out of court pursuant to a motion to suppress.
Police are allowed to question suspects and witnesses prior to arrest. After the moment of arrest, known as the “Miranda Moment,” officers are required to advise you of your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney pursuant to the Fifth and Sixth Amendments.
It is illegal for the police to ask you questions after an arrest without giving you your Miranda warnings. Any incriminating statements you make cannot be used against you in court after a Miranda violation. A suppression motion written and argued by a lawyer can protect your rights.
Excessive Use of Force
Police are only authorized to use the minimum amount of force necessary to gain control of a situation or protect themselves and the public from harm. This means that lethal force can only be used to prevent an imminent threat that could kill an officer or someone else. Likewise, physical force that causes injury should only be used when police are facing a combative person.
One recent example of illegal use of excessive force is the killing of George Floyd by police. In that situation, the officer unlawfully used lethal force by kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck for an extended period of time. This force was illegal because Floyd did not pose a threat since he was on the ground in handcuffs.
When police use excessive force, it can lead to civil lawsuits for damages caused by the officers. Additionally, prosecutors are much more willing to drop a case if excessive force was used as part of a resolution to the situation. Officers can also face criminal charges against them, as in the George Floyd case.
If you recently had a police interaction that led to criminal charges, you should retain experienced and aggressive legal representation. A good attorney can protect you from illegal police actions and stand up for your rights.