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Is there any recourse for false arrest?

Hillsboro, OR |

I was arrested on charges that according to the state legal definition of them were not true or really even alleged.

Attorney Answers 3


  1. It's not clear from your question where you are in the criminal case. There's no information here about what we call the "procedural posture" of the case - whether charges are still pending, if it was dismissed, heard at trial, or what the situation is. (Please see this Guide: http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/five-tips-for-how-to-ask-for-legal-advice-on-avvocom .) If the criminal charges are still pending, you must consult in private with an attorney immediately. You must not discuss this with anyone else until you do.

    Only if the charges were dropped by the DA, or if you were acquitted at trial, do you have any chance whatsoever of making any sort of "false arrest" claim. These claims are often desired and almost never successful. Merely being arrested wrongly (you may be surprised to learn) is not enough. The police arrest many more people than are ever convicted; most of them - the vast majority - have no ability to sue for anything. To prevail at such a suit, you'd have to show that the police acted with particular animus towards you personally. You'd have to overcome the doctrine of 'sovereign immunity' which normally protects any government agents from lawsuits related to their official actions. The law grants the police quite a lot of benefit of the doubt. Judges and juries tend to trust police officers a lot more than they trust accused criminals. So there are a lot of obstacles. But your first priority has to be ensuring that you won't be convicted of a crime. If there's any doubt about this, consult with an attorney in private immediately.

    Please read the following notice: <br> <br> Jay Bodzin is licensed to practice law in the State of Oregon and the Federal District of Oregon, and cannot give advice about the laws of other jurisdictions. All comments on this site are intended for informational purposes only, and are not intended to constitute legal advice, create an attorney-client relationship, or solicit business. No posts or comments on this site are in any way confidential. Each case is unique. Information not contained in these posts may create significant exceptions to the advice provided in any response. You are advised to have counsel at all stages of any legal proceeding, and to speak with your own lawyer in private to get advice about your specific situation. <br> <br> Jay Bodzin<br> Bodzin Donnelly Mockrin & Slavin, LLP<br> 2029 SE Jefferson Street, Suite 101, Milwaukie, OR 97222<br> <br> Telephone: 503-227-0965<br> Facsimile: 503-345-0926<br> Email: jay@bodzindonnelly.com<br> Online: www.bodzindonnelly.com


  2. False arrest is a tort, for which lawsuits can be filed. If a private citizen confines you somewhere, you may have a viable suit against him or her for false arrest. However, successfully suing the police for false arrest, while technically possible, is extremely difficult.

    Governmental officers acting in the capacity of their official governmental duties are largely immune from lawsuits regarding their actions. So, if the police just made a mistake, you're not going to get anywhere with a lawsuit against them. You would have to show that they went way beyond their official duties, like arresting you just for fun, knowing there was no evidence whatsoever against you. This is a possible scenario, but not a likely one, and even if it happened, proving it could be difficult.

    Of course, you can always file official complaints with the police department about the officers involved. Don't expect anything to happen based on your complaints, but if they are logged, and enough such complaints are logged by other people encountering these officers, it can have a more broad effect you might not feel in any visceral way. The effect would be that scrutiny would be placed on these officers over time, including scrutiny from criminal defense attorneys, who could use the complaints that pile up about the officer in defense of other clients. What's that saying? It takes a village?

    By the way, if criminal charges are still pending against you, you should focus on defending yourself against those charges. Let whatever frustration you have against the police drop for the moment, and find a criminal defense attorney to guide you through this process.

    Dear Asker: This answer does not constitute legal advice, and I am not your attorney. No attorney-client relationship is established between me and you by my answering your question. You can receive general information about the law here on Avvo to help you understand it better, but if you want actual legal advice, call an attorney for a private, confidential consultation.


  3. It is extremely difficult to sue the police for false arrest. Government officials are immune from lawsuits while acting in their official capacity.

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