Good evening. I'll be assisting you with your question.
I'm assuming you have not been charged with a crime, so this is not a criminal case at this point, correct?
That is correct.
OK. Are you considering bringing a civil suit for money damages against the PD?
In that case, you would be looking at a 1983 action (42 USC 1983; http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/42/1983)
You can prevail in a 1983 action if you are able to prove that the police intentionally violated your civil rights by conducting this search. There are a few things to keep in mind regarding a 1983 action:
What could I expect in civil damages?
First off, as you are most likely aware, the police have qualified immunity from lawsuits.
That is a difficult question to answer, because it largely depends on how it impacted you and what evidence of that you could produce. For example, if it impacted your prospects of moving up within your department or finding a job with another department, that would increase your damages. Also, the mental anguish associated with the incident has some value, too. Without meeting you or having a mental health expert's opinion, it is difficult for me to say exactly what that's worth.
However, I can say that I would not expect a large settlement (e.g. over $50,000) given the fact that you were not fired or any adverse action taken against you, other than the embarrassment. Courts (in Texas especially) don't place a large dollar value on embarrassment.
Keep in mind that police are immune from suit for the performance of their jobs unless willful, unreasonable conduct is demonstrated. Mere negligence, the failure to exercise due care, is not enough to create liability.
I was supposed to get promoted to Sergeant on April 15th, 2013, I have to go see the Chief on Monday. I am waiting to see what he says.
That would impact the value of your lawsuit. Of course, they may be able to come back and say you weren't promoted because you didn't show up for work because of alcohol abuse.
In all honesty, 1983 actions are difficult to win, but you may have the beginnings of a winnable case. At the very least, it bears further investigation.
Yes, I understand, but the search was still a violation of my rights.
It definitely was, but the question is whether it was willful, as required for a 1983 action. Moreover, you have the burden of proving that it was willful.
I am required to play by the rules in dealing with other citizens....
Yes, but most of the time if you don't, you aren't subject to lawsuit. The remedy from the court is usually suppression of whatever evidence was obtained. 1983 actions are typically seen only in extraordinary situations. Again, you have the makings of one here, but it all depends on what you are able to prove.
Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX wait to see what the Chief says on Monday.
Glad to help.
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