With so much happening in the streets of towns and cities across the nation, it’s easy to get caught up. You may be simply walking to the store but get swept away with protestors. Of course, recent news shows just how easy it is to be taken for a protestor — even when you’re not participating.
In New York, the NYPD reportedly arrested a food delivery person, a journalist, and even a man that was simply watching the protests from his front steps. So many people are getting arrested in these protests, in fact, that in Houston, over 800 detained protestors had charges against them dropped en masse by a judge.
It’s no secret that arrests are happening quite frequently these days, but it’s not a matter to be taken lightly. Being arrested and charged with a crime, no matter how minor, can be costly. Luckily, there are ways you can fight back – especially if you’ve been falsely arrested.
What Counts As a False Arrest in New York?
A false arrest occurs when a person is arrested without legal justification. Police officers cannot arrest anyone they want on a mere whim, they must have a warrant or probable cause to do so.
You may hear the term false arrest be used interchangeably with the term false imprisonment. While they are not the same, they are connected in that one way to falsely imprison someone is to falsely arrest them. A false arrest may or may not be tied to police brutality as well.
What About NY Unlawful Arrests?
As mentioned, a police officer does not need a warrant to arrest someone, but they do need probable cause. If there isn’t probable cause, then the arrest can be unlawful. If the person arrested can show they were arrested without a warrant, then the officer must then prove there was probable cause to make the arrest.
What constitutes probable cause? It is often proved by:
- Showing that a crime was committed in the presence of the officer
- Offering evidence that the officer had reasonable cause to believe a felony was committed
The officer must be able to show what they knew something at the time of the arrest to support probable cause.
What New Yorkers Can Do to Fight Their Arrest
If you’re falsely arrested, there are legal remedies for the situation. The remedies include:
Filing a Complaint
When you file a complaint against the officer who arrested you with the police department, you can demand that the officer face consequences for their actions. This might lead to the officer undergoing retraining, being suspended, or even fired.
Filing a Lawsuit
When filing a lawsuit against the arresting officer and the department to demand an injunction, the injunction can spur change in the department itself. Officers may be retrained and the official policies of the department on arrests changed.
File a Motion to Suppress Evidence
If you were charged with a crime, then any evidence against you that was obtained during a false arrest can potentially be excluded by filing a motion.
File a Lawsuit for Damages
You can file a lawsuit against the arresting officer and the department demanding to be paid damages for the false arrest. Damages include compensation for lost wages, medical bills, presumed damages, and pain and suffering. This is a difficult path to pursue since police officers have the qualified immunity defense on their side that shields them from lawsuits for conduct while on duty.
Don’t let a false arrest cost you. Understand your rights and what you can do if it happens to you.