New York Police Abuse Attorneys
At The Law Offices of Michael S. Lamonsoff, we consistently achieve outstanding results for our clients in abuse, brutality and excessive force suits against the police and other law enforcement. In the past year, our firm has secured six-figure verdicts against police officers for their abuse of power and use of excessive force against victims who were under arrest. We believe that the NYPD and other law enforcement personnel cannot abuse your rights without consequences.
If you have been the victim of NYPD Police brutality and excessive force you need not take it. It is UNACCEPTABLE. Even where there is probable cause for your arrest, or where you have been convicted of a crime, the police are only permitted to use as much force as reasonably necessary under the circumstances. Any more force than is necessary is considered excessive, and officers must be held accountable for those actions. Acts as simple as overly tight handcuffs or pressure applied to the neck and back can be considered excessive under various circumstances. Often, officers place handcuffs on individuals and attempt to “get their shots” in when the arrestee is defenseless.
Mr. Lamonsoff and his team stand ready, willing and able to get you justice. This firm will bring a lawsuit in the Federal and/or State and City Supreme Courts of New York against any police and/or law enforcement official, as well as the City of New York and/or State of New York for any client who has experienced brutality and/or excessive force at their hands. Our primary focus is to bring justice to people for the pain, injury, and humiliation they have suffered as a result. We are unyielding in our aggressive, no holds barred litigation against well-funded municipalities who will often try to take advantage of victims after violating their rights. NYPD officers who engage in excessive force can leave those under arrest with significant injuries including torn muscles and broken bones. As a victim of police brutality, you are entitled not only to compensation for the medical bills incurred but for the pain and suffering you feel as a result of your injuries.
HOW CAN AN ATTORNEY HELP WITH MY POLICE BRUTALITY CASE?
The U.S. Constitution guarantees you the right to be free from an arrest and search without probable cause. This also means that you have a constitutional right to be free from police brutality, police abuse, and excessive force. If you have been wrongfully arrested or have been the victim of police brutality and excessive force, your civil rights have been violated. Our attorneys will work to win compensation for you and your family. Police also have a duty to ensure that you receive prompt medical attention while under arrest. Police officers failure or indifference to providing such medical treatment may be a violation of your constitutional rights and compensatable under the law.
If you have been arrested and convicted and have suffered personal injury from excessive force and brutality at the hands of corrections officers, especially those that have been held at Riker’s Island, contact our office to learn more about your rights. We also routinely litigate damages actions on behalf of individuals confined in New York City jails who have been subjected to unconstitutional and excessive force by corrections officers. Please call our office immediately to discuss your case with an experienced and skilled attorney who will assess your case and inform you of your rights as strict deadlines apply.
When you are a person of color or a member of an ethnic or religious minority, it is difficult not to feel a bit uneasy in the presence of a police officer. The last decade has seen blatant examples of racial stereotyping or profiling by law enforcement agencies. Sadly, this profiling has lead to a rash of police shootings typically leaving men and woman of ethnic minorities killed. Statistics show that, while people of color comprise less than one-third of the general population, they account for nearly 60 percent of jail and prison inmates. The law, however, is clear — you cannot be detained, pulled over or arrested simply because of the color of your skin, or because your dress or appearance indicates that you belong to an ethnic or religious minority. Frequently, people approached by the police are told they “fit the description” of the person the police are seeking. However, merely being of the same skin color by itself does not mean you necessarily “fit the description.” In the event you are arrested under such circumstances, make a note of any information you receive regarding the details the police had when they arrested you. In New York, the NYPD cannot target you because of your skin color, religion and/or ethnic background. Despite this rule, a federal judge determined that the NYPD had engaged in a policy of indirect racial profiling for years. As a result of this practice, there are likely thousands of victims whose constitutional rights have been violated.
If your civil rights have been violated through racial profiling, we can help. If you believe that you have been a victim of racial profiling in which your race was a substantial reason why the NYPD initiated police action against you, contact the Law Offices of Michael S. Lamonsoff for immediate action. We are experienced racial profile attorneys and will litigate your case aggressively and will be unyielding until we bring you justice. You have the right to a financial recovery when you have been the victim of racial profiling. At the Law Offices of Michael S. Lamonsoff, PLLC, our lawyers will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to get full and fair compensation for all your losses. Special limited deadlines apply to lawsuits against the NYPD and other City agencies, so do not delay.
ILLEGAL SEARCH AND SEIZURE
The Constitution of the United States provides certain safeguards for you and your property. When those safeguards are violated by members of law enforcement, you are entitled to seek compensation for the damages that result. The damages can take many forms such as physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, or damage to your personal property.
ILLEGAL SEARCH OF YOUR HOME
The Supreme Court of the United States has determined you are most secure in your home. You have a “right to privacy” inside your home that may not be intruded upon without proper diligence on behalf of the police. Absent exigent circumstances, such as officer chasing a perpetrator who has illegally run through your home, law enforcement must secure a warrant to search your home without your consent. To secure the warrant, law enforcement must make an application to a judge or magistrate, showing why they believe a search of your home is necessary. Often, police will attempt a search of your home without going through these necessary protocols. Without a warrant, police will attempt to gain access in different ways, such as:
- Producing a crumpled piece of paper and indicating that it is a warrant.
- Stating that failing to consent to the search will make things “more difficult” on you.
- Pressure or coercion that if you “have nothing to hide” the search will end quickly.
Frequently, these searches occur late in the evening or the early morning hours when you may not have your wits about you. Do not let law enforcement take advantage of your right to privacy simply because they’ve banged on your door and yelled, “Police!” Police officers know the rules. Unfortunately, they are always trying to push the envelope, hoping that you will either be afraid or uninformed.
WHAT TO DO DURING A SEARCH OF YOUR HOME?
If police are searching your home pursuant to a properly obtained warrant, or through your consent, you should not interfere in any way with the search. Do your best to stay calm. If you fail to do so, officers have the right to detain you while the search is on-going. However, police may not detain you indefinitely and your restriction of freedom is weighed against the safety of the officers. While police may move items to conduct the search, they are not entitled to destroy or seriously damage your property. If you feel like your rights were violated during a search of your home, call us immediately! Be sure to document any and all damage you may have suffered through video or photographs. Such damage may include bruising to wrists from excessively tight handcuffs, or broken furniture, cabinets, etc. due to the officers’ searches.
ILLEGAL SEARCH OUTSIDE THE HOME
Your right to be free from unreasonable searches extends to you when you leave your home. Cops may not search your bags, your pockets, or your body without also following certain protocols. Police officers may stop you if they have a reasonable suspicion you may be engaging in illegal activity. Without reasonable suspicion, law enforcement may not stop you. Often, police do not have a reasonable suspicion to stop you and do so anyways. When stopped by a member of law enforcement, an officer is entitled to perform a pat down/frisk to ensure you do not possess any weapons that could be used against an officer. Be advised, this does not give the officer free reign to search all throughout your pockets and bags.
An officer abusing your right to be free from unreasonable searches is a constitutional violation. Such a violation is upsetting, traumatic, and humiliating. In the event you are subject to an illegal search outside your home, be advised of the following tips:
- Stay calm. As upsetting as the violation is, if you become angry or physically upset, an officer may claim they had no choice but to arrest you as emotionally disturbed.
- At your earliest reasonable time, be sure to document the names of any of the officers involved.
- Be sure to document any items you had on you at the time of the search and believe may have been taken from you.
No one should endure a violation of their constitutional rights. However, by not resisting arrest and following the tips above, you can preserve your rights to seek redress through a federal lawsuit.
As experienced civil rights lawyers, we know that the police, law enforcement, and prosecutors have and will engage in misconduct to secure a criminal conviction. Innocent people who are wrongfully convicted of crimes they did not commit can lose what we all hold most dear: their liberty and years of their lives. The damage is not limited to the wrongfully convicted individual; The consequences also extend to the families and communities forced to live without a loved one or a contributing member of society. As experienced New York civil rights lawyers, we understand that the collateral destructive effect upon the individual, the community, and the general public can be enormous. As a result, people lose faith in the NYPD, law enforcement and the criminal justice system as a whole. In effect, we lose respect for those authorities and institutions that are charged with protecting us. Similarly disturbing, those criminals who actually did the crime are not prosecuted and are free to commit more crimes.
In New York, the path to compensation for wrongful conviction begins with an exoneration. The exoneree must be aware that without a “favorable termination” of the proceedings against him/her, it becomes extremely difficult to seek financial compensation. In fact, prosecutors will often seek a guilty plea with time served, or what’s known as an “Alford Plea” in which the exoneree gets to maintain their innocent but admits the prosecutor has enough evidence to find him/her guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In either scenario, the exoneree may be foreclosed from seeking compensation due to those pleas.
Victims of wrongful conviction in the State of New York may seek compensation pursuant to Section 8(b) of the Courts of Claims Act. The legislature of the State of New York enacted Section 8-b as a means for victims to seek financial redress for their wrongful convictions. A victim of a wrongful conviction must satisfy the elements of the Section 8-b statute:
- That the victim has been convicted of one or more felonies or misdemeanors against the state and subsequently sentenced to a term of imprisonment and has served all or any part of the sentence
- That the victim was either pardoned on the grounds of innocence or he/she’s judgment of conviction was reversed or vacated
Additionally, a wrongful conviction victim bringing a claim under Section 8-b must show that they did not commit the acts charged that led to their conviction and that their conduct did not cause or bring about the conviction. We are pleased to state that in 2014, our office secured the highest award for a Section 8-b claim when the State agreed to compensate our client Fernando Bermudez 4.75 million dollars for 18 years spent in jail as the result of a wrongful conviction.
In addition to bringing a claim pursuant to Section 8-b, victims of wrongful conviction may seek financial compensation pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983. Section 1983 allows victims whose constitutional rights have been violated by those operating under the color of state law (police, prosecutors, etc.) to sue for civil money damages. Often, law enforcement will maliciously and intentionally fabricate evidence to put innocent people in prison for crimes they did not commit to merely complete a collar. This can occur in different ways including using unduly suggestive identification techniques. Pointing out or aiding witnesses in identifying suspects in a lineup, for example, is a constitutional violation if that action was the sole reason the suspect was convicted. When this misconduct results in a wrongful conviction, the victim deserves financial compensation for the irreparable damage that has occurred. If you are innocent and the police, law enforcement, or the district attorney have improperly subjected you to these procedures, you may have a case and be entitled to compensation. We will make sure that the NYPD and other law enforcement officials who are responsible for these gross violations are forced to face the consequences of their actions.
In our criminal justice system, police are not supposed to detain you or take you into custody without probable cause. This means they must have an objective and reasonable belief that you have committed or are in the process of committing an illegal act.
Unfortunately, for many police officers, arrests are a badge of honor and the pathway to promotion. Law enforcement officers will fail to take the time to determine all the facts, even when there is no reasonable threat to the safety of the officer or anyone else. Too often, police make an arrest and ask questions later.
HOW CAN I PROTECT MY RIGHTS AFTER A FALSE ARREST?
Any person who is falsely arrested may be able to recover compensation for the harm that results. Have you been falsely in the last three years? After the arrest, were your charges dismissed or “thrown out” by the Court?
If so, you are probably upset after going through such a horrific experience. Besides the emotional trauma, you may have suffered damage to your reputation. You may have even suffered physical injuries due to excessive force and police brutality. You may require medical and/or psychological care. We have sued government agencies in Federal and State Court for civil rights violations for damages that include:
- Recovery of legal fees incurred in defense against a charge that was dismissed in criminal court
- Loss of Liberty
- Permanent physical or emotional injury
- Financial compensation for damage to reputation, which may have cost the victim opportunities such as employment.
- Financial compensation for loss of freedom due to incarceration/imprisonment without cause.
- Recovery of medical costs and additional compensation for injuries sustained while in police or department of corrections custody.
Police officers are given the public trust to protect you, not to harm you. The law provides resources for you to stand up for your rights if police officers violate this trust.
Whether you were arrested for a minor charge such as trespassing or disorderly conduct or erroneously charged with a much more serious crime such as a felony, you may be entitled to compensation.
It is within your interests to act quickly. However, if some time has passed since your false arrest, action may still be available.
Although it is widely believed that a suit must be filed within 90 days of the incident, the matter may be brought before a federal court for up to three years. Remember, the officer must have probable cause to arrest you. Without reasonable evidence, there is no legal arrest.
In New York, when you are arrested without probable cause, we call the time from the arrest until you are formally charged, “false arrest.” Once you’ve seen a judge and have your charges read to you, the continuation of those charges from that point on is known as malicious prosecution.
HOW DO YOU ESTABLISH A CLAIM FOR MALICIOUS PROSECUTION IN NEW YORK?
In New York, to establish a claim for malicious prosecution the facts of your case must satisfy the following four prongs:
- “A proceeding instituted or commenced against you…” This is usually satisfied by the arraignment of the charges against you and the Court setting down a further Court date for which you must appear.
- “…without probable cause…” This prong is a carry over from the original arrest. If you are arrested without probable cause, the continuation of charges against after arraignment is considered to be without probable cause.
- “…undertaken with actual malice towards the accused…” In the context of malicious prosecution, actual malice can be satisfied by showing that an arresting officer forwarded information to a prosecutor which the officer knew to be false. In fact, even in situations where officers claim they did not know the information to be false, malice can be inferred by actions that they have taken or deliberately failed to take.
- “…and a termination of the proceedings in your favor.” A favorable termination for the purposes of malicious prosecution includes the prosecutor declining to continue with the charges or a not guilty verdict after a trial.
HOW CAN MALICIOUS PROSECUTION ARISE?
In New York, arresting officers will often sign what is known as a “Criminal Complaint” which is a document outlining the charges against you. In the document, the officer swears he/she observed you engaging in acts that constitute a violation of the applicable laws. When the officer fills out this document falsely, forwards it to the prosecutor assigned to your case, and the prosecution further relies on it to maintain charges against you, you have the makings of a claim for malicious prosecution.
HOW CAN YOU PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS?
As a victim of malicious prosecution, you must be aware that often the prosecution will attempt to resolve your criminal charges with a plea bargain. One of the purposes of a plea bargain is to attempt to get you to plead guilty or “nolo contendre” (no contest) to the charges. As such pleas do not constitute a “favorable termination” for the purposes of malicious prosecution it will extinguish your claim. Further, know that an “adjournment in contemplation of dismissal” (ACD) is also not considered a favorable termination and will be offered by prosecutors seeking to foreclose your rights to a claim for malicious prosecution.
Many people, and even many attorneys, believe that claims for “False Arrest” and “False Imprisonment” are duplicative or that they cover the same harm suffered at the hands of law enforcement. What these people fail to realize is a separate liberty interest protected by the United States Constitution for every person, regardless of race, gender, age, economic status etc., to be presented before a judge for arraignment within a reasonable amount of time. No matter what a person has been accused of, they have a right to have an impartial judicial officer review the charges against them and to have those charges presented to them. Any detention of 48 hours or longer without that hearing, known as an arraignment, is assumed, by law, to be unreasonable on its face. If any aspect of a detention is unreasonable, that is a separate violation of your constitutional rights and presents a separate claim for which you may recover damages.
CONTACT OUR OFFICES TODAY
At the Law Offices of Michael S. Lamonsoff, PLLC, we have fought tirelessly for victims of police misconduct for more than two decades. Our focus is always on winning — we will take every legal measure available to get the recovery you need and deserve. Because of our aggressive and thorough approach, we have obtained many of the largest verdicts and settlements in New York. We are respected by clients, judges and other attorneys for our trial expertise. Attorney Lamonsoff is frequently consulted by local and national media personalities as an authority on important legal issues.