If I was falsely arrested can I sue the police?

One of the most frustrating aspects of being falsely arrested for domestic violence is realizing the financial impact that it can have on your life. No matter what the outcome of your case you are going to include expenses for attorney's fees, a bail bondsman, time from work and possibility even additional housing.

Frequently I am asked by clients if they will ever have the option of suing the police at the conclusion of their claim. They are angry because the police failed to do a thorough investigation, there was a conflict of interest or they simply were not trained to properly evaluate typical CDV evidence.

As a general rule you can sue the police for false arrest during or after your CDV case. However in order to be worthwhile your lawsuit must be calculated to give you a chance for either a settlement or favorable court award in excess of your own legal fees (which are in addition to the fees you will pay for your defense in criminal court).

When I am asked to evaluate a CDV case for a possible civil claim against the police I look for the following factors:

  • Did the police or jail physical mistreat the defendant causing severe personal injuries?
  • Did the arresting or investigating police officer have a personal connection with the alleged victim?
  • Was the arrest politically motivated or based on some other conflict of interest?
  • Was the arrest made arbitrarily and without any supporting evidence?
  • Is whatever occurred so shocking and outrageous that a typical South Carolina civil trial jury would feel so outraged as to want to award a judgment they know will be paid with tax dollars?

For most cases, except those involving physical abuse by the police, it is necessary that the defendant ultimately prevail in Court. It is important to understand that just because someone is found not guilty for CDV or any criminal charge does not mean that they have a "good" lawsuit against the police. 
 
Some prospective clients contact my office offering me the privilege of representing them on the CDV case for free in exchange for an opportunity to explore their police misconduct case. For several reasons I do not enter into that type of arrangement - however I do screen all CDV cases upon request by my clients for a possible police misconduct case.

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