When someone has reached the height of their fury and anger from an arrest
or search by officers, they desire all kinds of retribution. One of the
most common ideas that come to mind is bringing a lawsuit against the
department that employs the officers where the fury is directed towards.
Sometimes it’s the right idea. Many times it’s the wrong idea.
Few people know what their rights truly are—and this can complicate
things in a very serious way.
THE ANSWER IS “YES”.
Yes, you can sue the police department. The more important question though
is “Why?” Or better yet, “For What?”
Some believe that in the American court system, you can sue anyone for
anything. All you need is a lawyer and someone to point the finger at.
The truth is, everyone is tired of frivolous lawsuits. So when making
the decision to sue the police department, one better make sure they have
a good case and that it is the kind of case that is worth going forward with.
WHAT POLICE DEPARTMENT ARE YOU SUING?
Another thing one has to consider is what department you are really going
after. Some cities have their own police departments because their city
budget hires and fires the department within their own city policies.
However, many cities contract with the County Sheriff’s department.
Therefore, if the police department you are considering to sue is one
of these, you will actually be suing the County Sheriff’s department.
WHY YOU SHOULD OR SHOULD NOT SUE?
At the beginning of this article was the statement that you may need to
consider a very important question in your desire to sue the police department:
For What? This is where an experienced lawyer must step in to assess the
causes of actions (or, reasons to sue) that will form the basis of your lawsuit.
Some people’s right to privacy has been violated due to an illegal
search and seizure. Other’s have been harmed by excessive or unnecessary
police force. And in some instances, people have lost their lives due
to lethal force. These are issues that carry serious Constitutional violations
and Civil Rights. When discussing these kinds of cases, even then the
facts must be evaluated in order to make sure the actions of the police
department were justified.
However, there is no shortage of cases where a simple inconvenience was
suffered due to an investigation, or a brief detention/encounter on the
street, or a simple traffic ticket was issued where the driver felt they
didn’t deserve it—where a lawsuit would bring nothing but
grief on the part of everyone involved. It’s these difficult types
of individuals who will find conflict where most would simply move on.
Suing police departments is no small deal. Many jobs and careers can be
on the line and a frivolous lawsuit helps no one. It’s also these
kinds of instances where the lawyer involved must choose to take on a
case and decide to either politely and professionally decline the case
or further evaluate the claim.
In summary, a careful assessment at the earliest stage can do much more
good than harm. That goes for everyone involved.