When is an Arrest ‘Wrongful?’

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An arrest is deemed wrongful when a person is detained and wrongfully convicted by police without proper legal authority. Wrongful arrests most commonly occur when a retail employee or retail owner holds a customer against their will because they have probable cause that the customer committed a crime in their store such as shoplifting. Or, the retailer calls the police and has the police arrest the suspect without any evidence, just on the word of the retail owner or employee. If you or someone you know has been falsely arrested, you may have a potential case.

Wrongful arrest also includes:

  • Arrest of the wrong person
  • Arrest of a person without probable cause that that person committed a crime
  • Arrest without the mention of the suspect’s Miranda Rights
  • Arrest without just cause
  • Arrest with an arrest warrant that was obtained with false information given to the court by a police officer
  • Arrest by incompetence
  • Arrest for personal gain
  • Arrest based on race
  • Arrest based on pure malice

Most people that are involved in a wrongful arrest case usually file a lawsuit against the arresting officer, the police department, and the township for damages that include mental distress and embarrassment. The majority of these cases are usually discovered after the fact of the arrest and when the case reaches court.

Can I resist arrest if I feel it is wrongful?

Anyone that is being arrested by a police officer who feels it is wrongful can resist arrest. The person being wrongfully arrested can tell the officer that it is wrongful. Once that statement is made, the officer has to demand that the person present evidence that the arrest if wrongful. If evidence presented proves that the arrest is wrongful then the officer cannot lawfully arrest the person any longer. If no evidence is presented then the person being arrested must cooperate with police entirely. The resistance of arrest cannot be violent or harmful to the officer in anyway.

Once the arrest has been made, because there was no evidence presented, then the claim can be made again in the presence of a lawyer. Not all courts will allow the suspect to prove their claim because of the fear that the person will flee the area.

How are Americans protected from wrongful arrest?

Citizens of the United States are protected from wrongful arrest by the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution. The Fourth Amendment states that “No Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation.” The Fourteenth Amendment states that “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.”

I have been wrongfully arrested; what can I sue for?

If a person is wrongfully arrested they can sue for a variety of different damages and wages lost during their period of incarceration:

  • Lost wages
  • Damage to reputation
  • Embarrassment
  • Physical harm incurred during or as a result of the wrongful arrest
  • Illness incurred during or as a result of the wrongful arrest
  • Wrongful death
  • Punitive damages
  • False imprisonment
  • Excessive force
  • Malicious prosecution
  • Wrongful conviction

Be advised; if a person that is wrongfully arrested pleads guilty to any of the charges brought against them in a court of law and it is then found that they were wrongfully arrested, that person will have their lawsuit legally thrown out and cannot sue for any of the items mentioned above.

Wrongful arrests happen quite regularly in the United States and are tough to avoid if the person being arrested does not have the proper evidence to prove to the arresting officer that the arrest being made is incorrect.A qualified criminal defense attorney should be consulted if you or someone you know is facing any criminal charges.

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