You hope to never have a negative interaction with police, but if you do it’s critical to understand your legal rights in Illinois and how to protect them. More specifically, a basic understanding of police misconduct will help prevent a situation in which you’re taken advantage of.
Even though police misconduct is illegal, it remains a common problem throughout many parts of the country. Here are several examples of this type of behavior:
- Excessive force: When putting an individual under arrest, police officers are only permitted to use as much force as necessary to apprehend the suspect and protect their safety while doing so. Using excessive force, such as striking an individual when they’re handcuffed and no threat of causing harm, is a common example of police misconduct.
- Illegal search and seizure: It doesn’t have anything to do with physical harm, but it can cause just as much trouble for a person who is under arrest. Even with the Fourth Amendment in place, which is designed to protect against unlawful search and seizure, it remains a concern. In short, police only have the legal right to search you or your property, such as your home or motor vehicle, if they have reason to believe something illegal is going on. For example, an officer can’t pry open your trunk in search of drugs because they have a hunch. However, if they believe you’re hiding something in there, such as because an illegal substance is in plain view in your center console, they can proceed with the search.
- Abuse of power: There’s no denying the fact that police have quite a bit of power. And while they need this power to keep everyone safe, some officers abuse it, such as by asking for something in return for letting you leave the scene without being put under arrest.
Since police misconduct can take on many forms, it’s critical to do your part in pinpointing this behavior and taking the necessary action.
If you believe you’ve been the victim of police misconduct, collect evidence related to the circumstance, learn more about state and federal laws designed to protect your rights and then take the appropriate action.