The police have broad powers to carry out their investigatory duties. However, they are not permitted to violate your civil rights. Apartment raids are often conducted in connection with narcotics, paraphernalia, or weapons. Sometimes they are conducted without probable cause for a retaliatory purpose, involve improper strip searches, or are conducted in an unduly destructive or violent manner. At Phillips & Associates, our experienced civil rights lawyers can represent you after an improper New York City raid.Improper Apartment Raids
Under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a lawsuit for damages can be brought against people acting under color of state law who deprive you of your federal Constitutional or statutory rights. Moreover, it is against the law to conspire with another person to deprive someone of civil rights. If two or more people acting under color of state law conspire to deprive another person of equal protection of the laws or equal privileges and immunities, they can be liable for damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3).
While Section 1983 does not list substantive civil rights that may be subject to civil remedies, it is not uncommon for someone who has experienced an improper apartment raid to suffer from abuses of his or her Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.
For example, in one case, a detective received information that individuals were packaging cocaine in a Manhattan apartment and obtained a warrant to search the apartment and the four men who utilized the apartment. During the apartment raid, the officers forcibly entered using a hydraulic device, put the woman, her son, her daughter, and the daughter's school friend who lived there on the floor at gunpoint, placed the woman and her son under arrest, damaged furniture, and strip searched the women. The woman and her son were charged with possession of marijuana, among other things. They sued for false arrest and unlawful strip searches in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
Causes of action that may also be appropriate in an apartment raid case can include assault and battery, malicious prosecution, and false imprisonment. In addition to compensatory damages, you may be able to recover punitive damages for egregious civil rights violations.
It is common for police accused of civil rights violations in connection with an apartment raid to raise the affirmative defense of qualified immunity, which shields police officers from liability for civil damages when their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights that a reasonable person would know. Even if the rights are clearly established, an officer can successfully defend on the grounds that it was objectively reasonably to believe his or her acts did not violate those rights.Seek Legal Guidance in New York City after an Incident of Police Misconduct
Apartment raid cases can be difficult to prove. A jury may be inclined to support police officers over those who have been accused of crimes, even if criminal charges have been dismissed. Moreover, police officers may back up each other's version of events. Your case may be much stronger if the police have raided your apartment or strip-searched you without probable cause. Whatever the circumstances, it is important to have a knowledgeable civil rights attorney on your side when you have been subjected to police misconduct in New York City. At Phillips & Associates, we offer experienced representation to individuals whose rights have been infringed in all five boroughs, including the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Staten Island. Call us at (212) 248-7431 or contact us through our online form.