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Mr. Tumelty represented Helena Hendricks, who was charged with first degree murder in Atlantic County Superior Court. The defendant faced a number of additional charges, including armed robbery, conspiracy and possession of a handgun for an unlawful purpose. At the conclusion of a jury trial that lasted three weeks, the defendant was found "not guilty" of all charges.

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Excessive Force: Can I Sue the Police for It?

Even as someone accused of a crime, you maintain particular rights that cannot be violated. If the police do not protect your rights and use excessive force during an arrest, you may pursue your own legal claim against them.

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects you from unreasonable and excessive force. You could have a lawsuit against the officer arresting you or even the municipal government entity that employs the officer. This is a civil pursuit rather than a criminal one.

The majority of lawsuits regarding police officer force have to do with the Civil Rights Act of 1871. Excessive force is difficult to define but becomes critically important in a legal case against police officers. Typically, police officers are eligible to use whatever level of force is necessary to defend themselves or to make an arrest. However, even though an officer is equipped to use higher levels of force to arrest a resisting suspect than if a suspect remained compliant with that officer’s request, the amount of force that an officer can legally use against a suspect depends on the circumstances.

The burden of proof is on the plaintiff in an excessive force case, to prove that the officer went above and beyond. Many states evaluate excessive force cases separately from typical lawsuits. In some locations, it is presumed that the officer had to act with the necessary level of force for the plaintiff. However, other states require a higher burden of proof. Legislatures across the country stipulate that the plaintiff being allegedly guilty for the crime is not a valid defense for the officer who uses excessive force. Many jurisdictions have immunity statutes that could protect other public employees of liabilities for injuries they caused by job duties. However, these statutes are not applicable to excessive force allegations lodged regarding police officers.

If you believe you have a claim for excessive force or police brutality and want to discuss this with an experienced criminal defense attorney, schedule a consultation today with the Law Offices of John W. Tumelty via phone number 609-390-4600, or via our online contact form.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney/client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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