Being arrested without legal justification can be a frightening experience for anyone. If this has happened to you or someone you know, then you may be wondering whether the arrest was lawful. The truth is that being arrested isn’t something that can be done without cause and there are both federal and state laws that protect New Yorkers from false arrest.
In order to protect yourself and those you love, it’s essential to understand what false arrest means and what you can do if it happens to you.
What is False Arrest According to New York Law?
Each citizen is protected by laws that allow you only to be arrested when law enforcement has probable cause.
In New York, this means that the police have the right to arrest someone in two situations. One, when the officer is reasonably certain that the accused has committed a crime. Or, two, if there is an arrest warrant issued for the person.
Of course, there are some exceptions such as leaving the scene of a crime or accident. If you have been arrested without probable cause, then this may be considered a false arrest.
Who Can Make New York Arrests?
Police officers in New York are not the only people authorized to detain or arrest someone. Private companies that maintain security at some venues such as hotels, retail establishments, and movie theaters, for instance, also have the authority to do so when they believe someone was involved in a disturbance or crime.
This level of power sometimes leads to a misuse of authority in a way that leads to false arrest, as well. In general, when a private party places someone under arrest, it may be considered a false arrest under either of the following criteria:
- A person is detained without legal justification or probable cause
- A person is detained against their will
If you believe that your arrest meets these basic criteria, then it may be time to reach out for professional legal advice. Learn why in the following section.
How Do You Prove False Arrest in a New York Court?
There are additional aspects of your detainment that must be proven in court in order for it to be legally recognized as a false arrest. Here are a few of them.
- First, you must also be conscious when arrested or detained in order for your arrest to be considered false because it can be difficult to prove if you were not conscious when it occurred.
- Furthermore, understand that an arrest is not considered false if the official didn’t know they were detaining you or detained you by accident. (This may sound impossible, but there have been cases.)
- When the arresting party is aware they are holding you, the officer can provide reasonable grounds for the arrest, then it cannot be considered false.
- An important note on probable cause, it isn’t something that a jury has to accept, but simply the officer’s belief they had a cause.
From here, proving false arrest can get even trickier because the probable cause can be based on secondhand observations or claims. So, if a witness says they saw you commit a crime, then you can be arrested.
What Can You Do If You’ve Been Falsely Arrested in New York?
If you believe you were falsely arrested, then you have the right to file a claim against the city. The most important thing to remember? You have to do it quickly.
This is because in many municipalities, such as New York City, a “notice of claim” must be provided to the municipality after a person claims they were falsely arrested.
Required documentation must be provided within 90 days of the arrest. When you miss this deadline, your false arrest claim will automatically be denied.