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False Arrest Questions

False arrest is the act of being held without probable cause or without an arrest warrant. While false arrest is a form of false imprisonment, an officer of the law or a person who is licensed to detain others for legal purposes are generally the ones accused of false arrest, while if a civilian detains another civilian and denies them the right of movement, that person would be guilty of false imprisonment. Below are a few of the more commonly asked questions about false arrest.

I would like to sue the city police dept. for false arrest, is that possible? What do I need to prove?

Before you attempt to sue the police department, you need to make sure that your case is over and that the case ended in your favor. If you were offered a plea bargain, and you accepted it, the false arrest would become a true arrest and there would be no law suit. However, if you didn't accept a plea agreement, there still may be a chance.

Usually, suing a government agency can be a hard process, but it is possible. The reason it is hard to sue is because government agencies and their employees are protected from law suits when operating within the normal procedures of their occupation. In order to proceed with a law suit, you will have to prove that the police department was negligent or showed misconduct while arresting you. There are four factors that you will have to prove in order to win your case.
1. The police arrested you without probable cause
2. The police had an ulterior motive other than arresting you
3. Your arrest was a result of the actions of the police
4. The case against you ended in your favor

The first two factors are usually extremely hard to prove but the last two are usually easy to prove.

The police department doesn't require much evidence to arrest a person. Usually all it takes is the police believing that you are involved in an illegal activity. In most states, you will be required to give the department notice of a pending law suit. You should speak to an attorney about the case and begin to build your arguments because the time frame for this type of suit doesn't last for long. You may also have trouble finding an attorney who is willing to take the police department to court.

If the police arrest you based only on a complaint and do not investigate, is this considered false arrest?

Generally, if someone files criminal charges, the police will investigate and take statements from any witnesses involved. If there is enough evidence that links you to the charges, the police are within their rights to make an arrest.

If there is a lack of evidence or not enough probable cause to make an arrest, but the police arrest you regardless, it may be possible that the police department would be liable for a false arrest. You need to contact an attorney and discuss your false arrest. An attorney will assist you in making the right choices.

Can false arrest be proven after you plead guilty? Can I sue the police department for false arrest?

After a false arrest, you have 10 days from the time that you plead guilty to make an appeal. Usually, if it has been longer than 10 days, you don't have an option to appeal. Because you have pled quilt, you have basically admitted that you were in the wrong and the police were justified in making the arrest. If you attempt to sue the police department after making your guilty plea, you will be expected to appear in court, before a judge and jury and explain why you think the arrest was a false arrest when you have plead guilty to the charges. What you are considering is called judicial estoppel, which means that you cannot attempt to make your claim different or better by changing your position. For example, you pled guilty but claim the police had no right to arrest you.

I was arrested 2-3 years ago for a crime I didn't commit, can I sue for false arrest?

The statute of limitations may have passed, however you have a five year statute of limitation to file for punitive damages. You should expect a fight with the police department based on the theory that they had probable cause to arrest you regardless of whether the case has been dismissed or not.

A false arrest can be damaging to a person's livelihood. There are options for the person who has been affected by a false arrest. If you are involved with a false arrest, you should contact an Expert to evaluate your legal options.
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