Each year thousands of innocent people are arrested for crimes they did not commit. False imprisonment, unlawful arrest, and false arrests can harm a person, not just physically, but also emotionally and mentally. In addition, the reputational damage at work and in the community can be detrimental and take time to restore.
What Is a Wrongful Arrest or False Arrest?
Most citizen interactions with the police are peaceful. However, there have been instances when a police officer, for any number of reasons, misuses their authority, either intentionally or due to mistaken identity, makes a false arrest for some type of a crime, conducts an illegal search, and/or violates a citizen’s rights.
When this happens, victims can experience police brutality; unlawful detention; confinement; humiliation; physical and mental harm; excessive force or threats; and wrongful imprisonment. Learn more about police brutality law.
For example, a Brooklyn man was falsely arrested for sexually abusing his daughter. The NYPD dropped the charges without any explanation. The man filed a false arrest lawsuit against the NYPD and police officer claiming he was the victim of malicious prosecution and that his constitutional rights were violated.
What Does the Law Say?
Under the law (Fourth Amendment), you can only be arrested or detained if there is probable cause. This means that a New York City police officer has the right to arrest someone only if they are reasonably certain this person has committed a crime, or if they have an arrest warrant. There are exceptions to the probable cause rule, including if the person runs from the scene of an accident or crime.
The officer must inform you of your constitutional rights to remain silent, to an attorney, and to have one appointed for you if you cannot afford one. You should exercise all of your rights, even if the officers do not inform you of them. Anything you say after that can and will be used against you. Request an appointment with a lawyer right away.
You have the right to a phone call within a reasonable amount of time after your arrest or booking at the police station. Law enforcement officers may not listen to calls to your lawyer, but they can listen to calls to others. You must be brought before a judge as soon as possible, ideally within 48 hours of your arrest.
Law enforcement officers can search your home only if they have a warrant or your consent.
False statements by police officers to justify an arrest or cover up an unlawful arrest is against federal law.
In New York City, when an arrest is made, the arresting officer generates a number of documents. These include: an Arrest Report, UF-61 Complaint Report, a Criminal Complaint, Property Vouchers, and, in some cases, a Stop and Frisk Report. The arresting officer must also record the arrest in his or her memo book.
Who Can Make Arrests in NYC?
NYPD police officers are not the only ones who can arrest or detain someone. A private security guard hired to maintain security at NYC hotels; retail establishments; venues; movies; etc. have the authority to arrest or detain someone they believe is involved in a crime or disturbance. As you can see, it’s not only the police force that may misuse their authority and make an unlawful arrest or false arrest.
False arrest lawsuits frequently involve police officers, security officers, and store owners and managers.
What Should You Do If You’ve Been Wrongfully Arrested?
If you have been arrested or imprisoned wrongly, contact a law firm that specializes in false arrest immediately. A lawyer with a specialty in false arrest understands the documents filed by the police officer and how to file to make a false arrest claim.
In addition, a personal injury attorney will help you seek compensation in a false arrest case for the damages you incurred. You have the right to compensation for the time you spent away from your family and employment and for the suffering you experienced because of the ordeal itself.
Typically, the municipality must receive a Notice of Claim within ninety days of when the false arrest occurred.
Contact Ronemus & Vilensky
If you feel you or a loved one have been a victim of unreasonable detention, wrongful arrest, or imprisonment in New York, contact Ronemus & Vilensky, experienced wrongful arrest and imprisonment attorneys. Call us for a free consultation to discuss your case and to let you know if you have grounds for a civil lawsuit. We will investigate your case, gather all the evidence needed to bring a successful suit to court, and expertly navigate you through the process.