The New Jersey law office of Begelman & Orlow has experience pursuing state and federal Civil Rights claims for false arrest. Local, state and federal police know they have to follow the law before they can arrest someone. That’s why there are laws and statutes and court decisions – to make sure that in a democracy the police use every proper effort to determine if someone should be arrested. The arrest of an innocent person has emotional consequences, can damage that person’s reputation, can cause physical harm, can prevent that person from getting a job, and more. Begelman & Orlow has the experience and results needed to fight to hold the police accountable for arrests that are false or not properly investigated.
What is a False Arrest?
A false arrest means being detained without legal authority. If there was some legal basis for the arrest, then a false arrest claim can’t be brought. What is “legal authority” will depend on the circumstances of the case, where the incident happened and what was done and said by the arresting officers or agents. Our firm has experience in fully investigating Civil Rights false arrest claims and determining whether there was a false arrest and whether there was “legal authority.”
Generally, police have the right to do their job. If they have probable cause to believe a crime was committed or reasonable suspicion that some engaged in or is about to engage in criminal misconduct, the police can detain someone. To win, a claimant has to to show that their the arrest was willful, without consent and without authority of law.
Civil Rights cases are brought under the Civil Rights Act or local state laws for violations by people acting on behalf of the government (US, state, local government). False arrests occur in other scenarios. A kidnapper commits a false arrest. Retailers and security guards may arrest shoplifters. If the arrest was without legal authority it may be a false arrest, but it’s not a Civil Rights violation unless the person doing the arrest acted on behalf of the government.
How does False Imprisonment Differ from False Arrest?
For the most part, the context is key. Many lawyers and courts use the words interchangeably. Both, from a Civil Rights violation standpoint, require that the arrest was willful, without consent and without authority of law. An arrest usually means a person was stopped and questioned. Most laypeople think of imprisonment as requiring more than an arrest – that spending time in a police station or a holding cell or even a real cell is required. In either event (whether you’ve just been stopped or whether you’ve been physically transferred) if the police action is wilful, without consent and without legal authority, our firm can help you pursue your Civil Rights claim.
Why is a False Arrest/Imprisonment So Harmful?
People, in a democracy like the US, expect that as long as they obey the laws they will be free to do what they please. When they hear that someone has been arrested, they’re inclined to think the arrest was legitimate and that the victim (even though he’s presumed innocent) is probably guilty of the crime. Police have the technology, the power of their position and the stamp of authority behind them. When someone is arrested, people think the police must have investigated the case fully and that the person arrested is probably the one responsible for the wrong.
It is this damage to one’s reputation – the immediate belief that if someone was arrested they’re a criminal, that stings the most. Even family, friends and co-workers will look and think about the victim of a false arrest differently. Even if the victim shows the arrest was false and unwarranted, the doubts may still linger.
Losing one’s reputation and having to clear one’s name are just the start of the downward slope of a false arrest. A false arrest causes stress and anxiety about proving innocence. A false arrest means the humiliation of being fingerprinted, having a photograph (mug shot) taken, and having a criminal record. Victims may have to raise bail and may lose their liberty, their freedom. The victim might lose his/her job and the ability to get new work. The consequences of a false arrest can be staggering.
Damages for False Arrest
When a claim for false arrest is proven, the victim is entitled to be made whole.
- To the extent the victim had to pay any medical bills, including psychiatric bills or lost any wages; the victim is entitled to have have those expenses paid.
- To the extent he’s suffered emotional or physical pain, because of the false arrest, he/she is entitled to an award. Emotional pain doesn’t just include the pain until the case is tried. The emotional pain can last a lifetime.
- Additionally, to punish the wrongdoer and to make sure the improper conduct doesn’t happen, a claim for punitive damages will also be brought.
- Also, the claimant (through our firm) will ask that the responsible parties pay the attorneys fees – that way the claimant can keep the entire damage award.
Our firm will hold the proper parties accountable. Whether it’s the police, security officers, prison officials or anyone else we’ll fight for your justice. We’ll not only bring claims against the individuals but against the organizations the supervise the officers.
Contact Begelman & Orlow, P. C.
If you want to discuss your potential legal claims with an experienced New Jersey or Federal Civil Rights Attorney, contact us today for a free initial consultation. If you’ve been treated wrongfully because of law enforcement misconduct or believe you’ve been falsely arrested or falsely imprisoned, contact us today for a free initial consultation. From our offices in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, we represent clients pursuing Civil Rights throughout the country.