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Was I falsely arrested?

Police officers exist to uphold and enforce the law. Unfortunately, this does not always work out. There is a wide variety of police misconduct, including false arrests, illegal searches, excessive force, false imprisonment and police brutality. All of these instances are unlawful. 

When you get arrested or detained by police, you may have questions about whether it is lawful. It is helpful to understand the definition of a false arrest and what justifies an arrest.

Definition of false arrest

A false arrest is simply an arrest that is not legally justifiable. Specifically, this means a police officer restraining someone against his or her own will without probable cause or a warrant. Law enforcement officials are not permitted to arrest anyone without at least one of these justifications. 

Valid warrant

In many cases, a warrant is necessary for a police officer to detain an individual. A warrant is a legal document that authorizes the police to conduct a search or arrest. In order for a warrant to be valid, it must include the name of the issuing body (usually a court), the name of the individual being arrested and the reason for the arrest, such as criminal or suspicious activity. 

Probable cause

However, warrants are not always needed for police to make arrests. Sometimes, all a police officer needs is probable cause. This basically means the officer has a reasonable belief that someone is guilty of a crime. Without probable cause or a warrant, the cops cannot search or arrest someone. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution ensures this right.

Lawsuit for false arrest

It is possible to take legal action against the police officer who makes a false arrest. A wrongful arrest is a civil rights violation according to Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act. You may be able to pursue a lawsuit. If successful, you can obtain civil damages for your suffering.

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