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Albuquerque Civil Rights Attorneys Discuss Reporting Police Misconduct
17 Aug 2015

Albuquerque Civil Rights Attorneys Discuss Reporting Police Misconduct

 Albuquerque Civil Rights AttorneysWhen a person in a position of authority abuses his or her power, it is a serious matter than affects not only the individual who suffered the direct harm but also society as a whole. Perhaps there is no worse kind of abuse than police misconduct. When those designated to protect and serve betray that trust, Albuquerque civil rights attorneys know something must be done.

What Constitutes As Police Misconduct

Generally speaking, law enforcement personnel engage in police misconduct when they break the law while on duty. However, not each instance of law breaking can be said to rise to the level of misconduct. To be considered misconduct, the act must specifically involve some abuse of the power the officer holds. A civil rights attorney Albuquerque offers examples, such as:

  • Conducting searches without proper cause
  • Physically assaulting suspects
  • Planting contraband to justify otherwise illegal actions
  • Misappropriating seized evidence, such as drugs or money

Deciding to Act

The unfortunate reality that an experienced civil rights attorney Albuquerque sees all too often is that most victims of police misconduct do not come forward to voice a complaint, and it’s not too difficult to understand why. Who are you going to complain to? Who is going to believe you? What will be the repercussions? Although it is true that the police do take care of their own, there are ways that you can report police misconduct that will be effective in remedying the wrong that you experienced and punish the perpetrators. By acting appropriately and following the guidelines listed below, you can protect yourself and your community from further abuse.

Pay Attention to the Details

Facts are important, and the more detailed your description of the occurrence is, the more credible you are. This can be difficult, especially if physical intimidation or abuse is involved in the misconduct, but staying as calm as possible and present in the moment will allow you to think more clearly.

Do Not Tip Your Hand

The last thing you should do is tell the officer involved you intend to file a complaint. Even though it will be helpful to have his or her badge number, asking for it only alerts the officer to you intentions. The officer’s identity can be determined after the fact from the time and area of patrol and a physical description. Document Your Recollections as Soon as Possible When something as frightening as being victimized by the police occurs, we tend to think the details will be imprinted on our memories forever. While you may never forget the emotions and fear you felt, memory fades quickly. Write it down, record it on your phone and memorialize it in any way; the nearer in time to the series of events that occurred, the more accurate your narrative will be. If it is safe to do so, you may also consider returning to the scene as a further trigger to your memory.

Seek Witnesses

If you were aware of others who were present or observed any part of what occurred, contact them as soon as possible and encourage then to write down what they saw. Perhaps no one witnessed the entire chain of events, but bits and pieces can be corroborated by a series of witnesses. Be certain you have each witness’s correct name and contact information.

Avoid Inaccuracies

In your narrative, it is important to stick to the facts. It is understandable to want to get back at the individuals who harmed you, but embellishments and inaccuracies can detract from your credibility and may sabotage your claim of misconduct. Only include facts that you are certain of, and explain this to your witnesses as well.

Consult with a Civil Rights Attorney

If you were arrested as a result or as a byproduct of the misconduct, you will likely be consulting an attorney regarding the criminal charges you are facing. However, not every criminal attorney is the best choice in handling a misconduct claim; be certain the counsel you choose has civil rights experience, specifically police misconduct. Even if you were not arrested, consider the value of experienced representation. Police misconduct cases are very difficult to prove. The preparation you have done in documenting the chronology of events and in lining up witnesses will be carefully evaluated by your lawyer. His or her decision to accept the case or decline will likely be based primarily on the potential strength of your case, as opposed to the level of misconduct.

File a Misconduct Claim with the Appropriate Agency

If you cannot find a lawyer to take your case or simply wish to act on your own, you can do a little research and determine how to proceed. Depending on the specific law enforcement entity, there may be a dedicated office in that department or perhaps a citizen review board that fields police misconduct claims. Be certain you follow the exact protocol or your case may get thrown out. Don’t be discouraged because you will likely run into significant opposition from the department as you follow the required steps. Even if your complaint doesn’t get the results you hoped for, it is important to have filed the complaint and put the department on notice.

Contact Albuquerque Civil Rights Attorneys for Legal Advice

If you have been the victim of police misconduct, it is important to understand and protect your rights. Call the Twohig Law Firm, an Albuquerque civil rights attorneys group, at (505) 898-0400.

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