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I was illegally searched, went to trial, and won, can I sue?

San Luis Obispo, CA |

I was recently "detained", illegally searched, found in possession of marijuana, took it to trial and the evidence thrown out and charges dropped. THIS IS NOT THE FIRST TIME. I'm fed up. Do I have any right or leg to stand on if I try to sue? And which type of attorney would I be seeking council from?

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Attorney answers 2


Well, you didn't exactly win, and you weren't innocent, it was just that the state was unable to make it's case against you beyond a reasonable doubt because of police carelessness.

The closest claim you'd have would be for a violation of your civil rights. The people who usually find a civil rights/police misconduct lawyer willing to handle these cases, which are literally against City Hall and the full force of the government and their unlimited human and financial resources, are the survivors of those who have been shot and killed in error by the police, or survivors who have been abused in truly heinous ways. Your experiences, though obviously unpleasant and inconvenient, and even though you've gone through this more than once, don't come close to that level, and wouldn't make even the most liberal jury angry enough to award you any money.

Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.


I respectfully disagree with Attorney Koslyn, who does have some valid points. Under some recent case law you may have a better chance than before. If the motion to suppress was granted then you may have a case against the cop.

Also, if you had a prescription with the card it would help as well.

You want a civil rights attorney. It's called a 1983 action. You are welcome to email me and I'll send you the name of an attorney that might be interested (I don't have permission to put her name in a public forum).

Matthew Williamson

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