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Can I sue the court or police department that completely mishandled my DWI case? All charges were eventually dismissed.

Painted Post, NY |

I was arrested on felony DWI charges in 2005 & pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge with the condition that I would complete drug court. I eventually quit drug court (due to extreme personal bias against me - I have a long history with the police chief) so the original felony charge was reinstated. They never indicted me, and after my repeatedly pressuring my lawyer, the charges were finally dismissed against me in August 2010. Due to this arrest, I lost my job of 23 years in the State Dept. of Corrections. I also went without my drivers license this whole time, so getting another job was almost impossible in our rural area with limited public transportaiton. Do I have any recourse against the D.A.'s office or judge and police dept. that control the drug court?

Attorney Answers 7


  1. You would have to sit down and consult w/an attorney who can go over all the facts. It may be possible to sue but you would need to go over all the facts w/an experienced civil rights attorney.

    Joseph A. Lo Piccolo, Esq.
    President, Criminal Courts Bar Association 11'-12'
    Hession Bekoff & Lo Piccolo
    1103 Stewart Ave, Suite 200
    Garden City, NY 11530
    516-408-3666 (o) / 516-408-3833 (f)
    Jlopiccolo@hbclaw.net

    I am a criminal defense attorney practicing in Nassau, Suffolk and New York City. The above information is not a substitution for a meeting whereas all potential legal issues can be discussed.


  2. While I encourage you, as my brethren counsel does, to speak to a local civil rights attorney, I would hasten to add that these are extremely difficult cases because of thing called sovereign immunity, which essentially means that you cannot sue police/judges/prosecutors/EMT's etc. for carrying out their public duties unless certain requirements are met. Check it out with a local attorney versed in these cases to see if your case meets the requirements. Also, be prepared, in the event they are met in your case, for a long and very expensive battle.

    Disclaimer: Contact me at (314) 645-7900 or at http://www.heinlegal.com to discuss the above answer in more detail if you wish. But if you want legal advice, you will have to hire an attorney, not ask on Avvo. I am not your attorney and am not creating an attorney-client relationship by this post. I am therefore giving only general advice. This advice may not apply to you or your situation; may not take account of all possibilities, and may not match the advice I would give to a client. DO NOT rely on the above answer or any other answers on Avvo to make your legal decisions. If you want an answer to a legal question you should retain an attorney who is licensed in your state. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements. Therefore, I provide the information in this web site for informational purposes only. The information does not constitute legal advice. The use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship with me. Further communication with our attorneys through AVVO, our website at http://www.heinlegal.com, and/or e-mail may not be considered as confidential or privileged.


  3. Probably not. Your narrative doesn't support "completely mishandled." You pled guilty to it once, and that establishes probable cause. The system isn't perfect. Actors in the system screw up all the time, but that doesn't mean they can be sued.


  4. While there aren't enough facts to say this with 100% certainty, I can't imagine you have a suit for wrongful arrest or malicious prosecution where you admitted guilt to a misdemeanor crime.

    Richard Southard
    212-385-8600
    I am a former Deputy Bureau Chief with the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office who has been specializing in criminal law for over 15 years. I offer free consultations by telephone, in-office or by videoconference.

    All answers are for information purposes only. Answering this question or any future questions does not form any attorney-client relationship. Be mindful, that answers are limited by the limited facts presented by the questioner and are not meant to take the place of competent legal advice by an attorney fully informed of all the facts surrounding your case. However, be aware that nothing posted in a public forum such as this can be deemed confidential or privileged communication. For a privileged private consultation, contact me at 212-385-8600 or via my website www.reasonabledoubtny.com


  5. You could certainly review the facts and circumstances with a civil rights litigator but based on what you describe I cannot imagine that you have a viable cause of action.


  6. As you were advised after your prior post, based upon the limited facts listed, you should consult w/a civil attorney who may be able to advise you.

    Joseph A. Lo Piccolo, Esq.
    President, Criminal Courts Bar Association 11'-12'
    Hession Bekoff & Lo Piccolo
    1103 Stewart Ave, Suite 200
    Garden City, NY 11530
    516-408-3666 (o) / 516-408-3833 (f)
    Jlopiccolo@hbclaw.net

    I am a criminal defense attorney practicing in Nassau, Suffolk and New York City. The above information is not a substitution for a meeting whereas all potential legal issues can be discussed.


  7. Police officers and the Court has very limited liability that you can pursue a civil action on. It typically requires a blatant violation of your civil liberties. Negligence or sloppiness in the investigation typically does not create a cause of action. In fact, their negligence and sloppiness appears to have benefitted you by the dismissal of the action. I agree with my colleagues here that you should contact a civil attorney for a more thorough review of your case.