Last week at 3 a.m. three sheriff’s deputies came to my door and woke me up. Based on what they said, they were looking for someone else. They left after a few minutes, but woke up a number of the neighbors.I have had some minor legal disputes going on recently. I think that the deputies may have deliberately come to my apartment in order to harass, or perhaps discover my doing something illegal at 3 in the morning. I did file a misconduct complaint with the sheriff’s office and with some different officials. Anything else I should keep in mind?
Country relating to Question: United States
State (if USA): Florida
Thanks for the chance to help. I am an attorney with over 12 years experience. Hopefully I can help you with your legal question.The complaint is the best way to start the process. IT may be they resolve to your satisfaction.If not you do have some recourse.First, you can go "up the chain of command" with the complaint. You can complain directly to the chief of police...or you can go to your elected representative. Specifically you can go to the city council or county supervisor (depending on your political set up which one is supervisory over this police department).You can also complain to the County prosecutor who has supervisory oversight over the police.If none of that works? YOu can consider a Civil Rights claims. Typically the best cause of action for a False Arrest or Harassment is a claim under 42 USC 1983, the Civil Rights Act. This is federal law that can be used to sue a government body (like a police department) for violations of civil rights. Here is the law Every person who under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, Suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer's judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable. For the purposes of this section, any Act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia shall be considered to be a statute of the District of Columbia. Now, this may be a tough case, since you need to prove the police knew you were innocent but broke into your home just to harass you. If you can show this, then you can prevail and get an award of money damages. To pursue this, you need an attorney with experience in this area. Many attorneys will take a case like this on contingency, so it would not cost you up front, they would recover fees after the Verdict or settlement. The problem you have is since you were apparently not injured or arrested your damages (money you can recover) would not be as significant as if they had beat you or arrested you. You may recall the Rodeny King case many years back...he was beaten by LA Cops and won quite a settlement with the LA PD.Since this conduct was relatively minor it may be tough to find a lawyer to take the case on contingency....you may need to pay the lawyers fees to sue. But if they harassed you it is a violation of the law and you can sue.
I’m a college graduate, a freelance writer, and my late father was a judge, but I cannot get a lawyer in the US. I think it is reasonable to assume that the majority of the population cannot. My income is well above the poverty level.So I can’t file a civil rights claim unless I do it myself. While I was able to successfully litigate a dissolution case, I don’t have the legal background to pursue a Civil Action against law enforcement, however wrong they were. I am going on the assumption that nobody will even discipline the deputies. Again, I can’t file suit all by my lonesome.Anything else I can do to protect myself until this blows over?
I agree with you...the legal landscape is tilted against folks who can not afford a lawyer. If you try an file yourself (pro se) you enter into a battle where you are not properly prepared. Protect yourself? I would consider a nanny cam at the home to record the next arrest if there is one...but then you live in Florida where they require consent of all parties for recording conversations...so you would have to disclose to your visitors including the cops that you are recording the interaction.If this happens again, regardless of if you tape it or not, that would make the case more aggravated and perhaps make it easier to get a lawyer to file this on contingency.
If it weren’t so serious, it would be comical that a college graduate with lawyer parents (both of them) cannot get an attorney. There is something seriously wrong with the legal system.By the way, it is exceedingly difficult to complain to law enforcement people. Most of them are combative and/or argumentative when taking a complaint from a nonlawyer, in case you didn’t know.I think I will forgo the nanny cam.
Oh I know...I know that it is not easy at all to go the formal cop complaint process. And I agree with you it is not fair.You may want to reach out for someone or some organization to assist for free "pro bono". For example, the ACLU often takes cases like this. If you can find someone to file this for you, you may be able to hold the cops accountable.
I’ve talked to the ACLU before. They won’t do anything.One final question: what is the likelihood that they came to my apartment at 3 a.m. by mistake? My neighborhood is not that bad and I have lived here four months.
I guess it depends. I mean folks do make mistakes...I have been known to as well on occasion.Context is important...if the target house was next door, or a similar address? Then it may well have been a mistake. If the target house was across town or clearly not the same place? THen it looks less like a mistake.
I receive a benefit from the VA. Should I send a complaint to them about law enforcement harassment?
That will not likely help much at all. The VA has no authority to order local law enforcement to do anything
Law Degree, 12 Years of trial experience
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