Have you been involved in an incident where you were beaten or abused by a police officer? Were you charged with obstruction of justice / resisting arrest / resisting an executive officer from an incident where you were the victim?
Police misconduct cases involve two separate legal cases. The first case is the criminal case where the district attorney of your California County will prosecute you and attempt to impose criminal sanctions for an incident where it is alleged that you obstructed an officer from performing his duties or actively-evaded / forcibly-resisted arrest. The second case is the civil case where you may sue the law-enforcement agency for monetary and other damages.
An effective police misconduct attorney will advise you of the charges you are facing, your defenses to these charges, and advise you as to your options. One important decision a defendant in a police misconduct case will have to make quickly is whether or not to pursue a civil suit against the law-enforcement agency. In California, the statute of limitations in filing a civil suit against the law-enforcement agency is typically no more than six months from the date of the incident. A suit filed after the statute of limitations will often be thrown out by the court without a full hearing, regardless of its legitimacy. Police misconduct suits often involve considerable legal costs and expenses, (ex. expert witnesses) which are paid for by the client, regardless of the outcome of the civil case.
Another important decision a defendant in a police misconduct case will have to make is whether to accept a plea bargain offer from the district attorney or proceed to trial. A district attorney in a police misconduct case will often be willing to extend a relatively lenient plea bargain because admission of guilt in the criminal police misconduct case may have negative consequences to your civil case. “Don’t sue us and we’ll be nice to you” is the name of the game. For the same reason, a district attorney may be exceptionally diligent in his prosecution against a police misconduct defendant who chooses to go to trial.
An effective police misconduct attorney will advise you of the steps involved your criminal defense case and/or your civil case, advise you of your options, and help you make the decision that best suits your ultimate goals. Is it better to settle a criminal case quickly, even if it means compromising a promising civil suit later on? If you have been involved in a situation involving police misconduct and have these or other questions you would like answered, call us.