Wrongful Arrest Attorney in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
There are few worse feelings in life than when you’re wrongly accused or blamed for saying or doing something you weren’t responsible for. Of course, this is difficult to manage when it happens in our personal or professional lives, but when you’ve been arrested or accused of a crime you didn’t commit or were put in a situation where the arresting officer violated your civil rights, you should fight back against this.
Although it’s easy to think that “justice will prevail,” sadly sometimes, these cases require a concerted effort by an experienced civil rights attorney to ensure your reputation is repaired and that you get any compensation due to you. If you would like help dealing with a wrongful arrest or filing a wrongful arrest lawsuit, give us a call at H. Rosen Law, P.C., serving those in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania, including Harrisburg and Scranton.
What Qualifies as Wrongful Arrest?
Just because you disagree with an arrest does not automatically make it “wrongful.” However, there are a number of situations where a false arrest actually has happened. In general, a wrongful arrest occurs when a law enforcement officer detains or wrongfully convicts someone without having their consent or the legal authority to do so. Some of these include:
Making an arrest without having just or probable cause
Arresting someone based on racial profiling
Arresting the wrong person (this could be due to genuine mistaken identity or due to racial profiling)
Being arrested without being properly informed of your Miranda rights
An arrest made based on malice instead of evidence
Arrests made with information that was illegally obtained (for instance, an officer who performed an unlawful search and seizure of your home or vehicle and found incriminating evidence)
Arrests by incompetence
Elements Needed to Prove a False Arrest
Proving a false or wrongful arrest can be quite difficult, which is why you should never attempt to do this on your own and you should always seek out legal representation. In a number of cases, the benefit of the doubt will fall to the police officer since they were tasked with making quick decisions in the heat of action. Because of this, the most important factor you’ll need to prove in court is that the officer intended to detain or confine you, and it wasn’t simply a matter of neglect or carelessness. (Note that if your arrest was caused by neglect or carelessness, our firm can help you with this, but it won’t qualify as a false arrest.) You will also need to prove the following three elements:
You were aware of what was happening during the detainment.
You did not consent to be detained (note that consent given under duress or coercion does not count).
There was no legal justification for the arrest or detainment.
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Wrongful Arrest?
The most important question to ask in a case like this is, “Who is liable for a wrongful arrest?” In most instances, it will be a law enforcement officer who is at fault for the wrongful arrest, but in other cases, it could be anyone who unjustly detains you. For example, let’s say you were shopping at a department store. A clerk believed you stole something (but never actually saw you do anything) and called the security guard over. If that guard then detains you and doesn't let you leave the store, they can be held liable for their actions.
Filing a Wrongful Arrest Suit
Any time you file a lawsuit against someone, be it a private citizen or a member of law enforcement, you should always do so with the help of an attorney. An experienced lawyer can help you through this process and ensure you have a strong legal standing and the evidence to back up your case. If you’re suing a private individual, you will likely pursue a lawsuit in the state court, while a lawsuit against the police will often need to be filed with the federal district court.
Possible Damages Available
Damages available in a wrongful arrest lawsuit depend on the nature of your case. They’re typically separated into the categories of “compensatory damages” and “punitive damages.”
Possible compensatory damages include:
Reimbursement for lost wages
Damage to your reputation
Medical bills from any physical harm that was done during the arrest
Payment for future physical or emotional treatment you’ll need in the future
Pain and suffering
Although punitive damages are awarded less frequently in cases like this, they are still possible. Punitive damages are intended to punish the responsible party to deter them from similar actions in the future. These are generally reserved for the most egregious cases.
Wrongful Arrest Attorney Serving Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
If you believe you were the victim of a false arrest and would like to learn more about your options for compensation, call us at H. Rosen Law, P.C. in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.