The police have broad powers to place citizens under arrest. But those powers are not absolute, and law enforcement must have sufficient evidence to do so. When they don’t, the person apprehended may have the right to sue for unlawful arrest. Understanding your rights after you’ve been arrested is one of the most important things you can do. The civil rights attorneys of Hale & Monico are here to help.
What Is An Unlawful Arrest?
The police cannot arbitrarily arrest people, nor can they do so on mere suspicion. Under the U.S. Constitution, they must have enough evidence that a crime was committed before placing someone under arrest. The standard of evidence required is known as probable cause.
Probable cause means more than simply believing someone might have committed a crime. To have probable cause, there must be facts leading a reasonable police officer to arrest someone. All arrests must be based on probable cause, even those made under an arrest warrant.
Whether there was probable cause for an arrest generally depends on the totality of the circumstances. That means taking into account everything the officer either knew or reasonably believed when the person was arrested.
If there was no probable cause at the time of arrest, the arrest was unlawful. Moreover, any evidence obtained after the unlawful arrest will usually be considered invalid. That includes physical evidence along with any confessions made.
What Is Considered An “Arrest”?
Another important question concerning unlawful arrest is whether the individual was arrested. Not all citizen interactions with law enforcement constitute an arrest. To be under arrest, a person must reasonably believe they do not have the liberty to leave. A police officer may take an action, like place handcuffs on you, that indicates you’ve been arrested. But such obvious restrictions are not necessary to qualify the encounter as an arrest. As with most cases of unlawful arrest, the question comes down to a person’s case.
Examples of Unlawful Arrest
If you have questions about whether you were arrested under legally invalid circumstances, you should speak right away with an experienced unlawful arrest attorney. If you’re arrested in any of the following common situations, the arrest may be unlawful:
- Being forced or coerced by an officer to admit to a crime you didn’t commit
- Having drugs or other contraband planted on you
- You annoyed an officer but didn’t break any law
- There’s no reason to search your car, but the officer does so after placing handcuffs on you
Other situations may include being forced to come to the police station (or threatened with arrest) when there is no reason for you to go. Or, you may have been handcuffed while the police conducted an illegal search of your home. Again, situations like these are fact-specific, which is why it’s a good idea to speak with a knowledgeable attorney.
The Consequences Of An Unlawful Arrest
Being arrested, especially if it’s done under false pretenses or for baseless reasons, will have a major impact on a person’s dignity and reputation. It might even be enough to cost a person their job in some circumstances. While the person is arrested, he or she is deprived of the chance to earn money or participate in whatever event he or she was headed to at the time of the arrest.
An unlawful arrest can have emotional and mental consequences for the person, and sometimes even cause physical injury as well. While cases resulting in injury are relatively rare, they have been known to occur. If you believe you were the victim of an unlawful arrest, you may be entitled to compensation. But you should know the right steps to take.
What To Do If You Were Unlawfully Arrested
If you or someone you love were unlawfully arrested, it’s important to stay calm and ask to speak to a criminal defense lawyer about the underlying charges. Don’t make the situation worse by acting belligerent to the police or giving them another reason to hold you. Your underlying charges will need to first be cleared, however, if you make a plea deal with prosecutors that will significantly complicate your unlawful arrest claim.
Individuals who are unlawfully arrested typically have one year to file a claim in Illinois state courts, and two years in federal courts. However, the sooner you act, the better. It’s much easier to obtain evidence and remember details concerning the arrest if you take quick action and consult a civil rights attorney.
Contact Our Unlawful Arrest Attorney
No one should have their rights and dignity violated because they were subjected to an unlawful arrest. Holding law enforcement officers accountable, and compensating you for the losses and injuries you experienced, takes the dedication of an unlawful arrest attorney. Count on Hale & Monico to fight for the justice you deserve. Give us a call today to schedule your consultation.