Phillips & Associates

False Arrest

New York City Lawyers Dedicated to Helping Victims of Civil Rights Violations

Police officers have difficult jobs and need broad powers to carry out their duties. However, they are not above the laws they enforce. They must give due regard to an individual’s civil rights. Unfortunately, civil rights violations by police officers are not uncommon. One of the most common of these is false arrest. A false arrest happens when a police officer (or sometimes a business) confines or detains someone against his or her will and without the authority to do so. This violates federal civil rights law as well as state common law. At Phillips & Associates, our civil rights attorneys pursue justice on behalf of New York City residents who have been victims of false arrest.

Holding Law Enforcement Accountable for a False Arrest

If you are the victim of a false arrest by the NYPD, you can sue the police officer who arrested you, and in some cases a supervisor, under the federal civil rights law 42 U.S.C. § 1983 or under state common law.

False arrest claims brought under § 1983 are connected to the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. A false arrest is the unreasonable seizure of someone's person. A seizure is considered unreasonable when there is a lack of probable cause to support it. In other words, a police officer must have facts and information that are sufficient to reasonably believe that the person to be arrested committed a crime. Probable cause does not necessarily mean that the person must later be found to be guilty.

If there is probable cause, this serves as a complete defense for a police officer sued for false arrest. This means that claims for false arrest brought solely because the person turns out to be innocent usually will not prevail in court. Instead, a plaintiff must show a lack of probable cause by proving that the police officer's version of events is false or that he or she acted in bad faith or that assessed the situation incorrectly.

Generally, if a plaintiff has been indicted by a grand jury or pled guilty or was convicted at trial, a Section 1983 false arrest claim will not succeed. However, if he or she can show that he or she was the victim of suppressed evidence or police perjury, it may still be possible to prevail on a false arrest claim.

The remedies available in a Section 1983 claim may include actual damages, compensatory damages, punitive damages against the individual police officer, and attorney's fees. However, police officers can defend themselves under the doctrine of qualified immunity. This doctrine tends to immunize police officers except in cases of clear violations. Moreover, under Section 1983, you cannot sue the municipality on the grounds that it is vicariously liable for the civil rights violation. You can only hold the city responsible if it directly violated your civil rights, such as when a police officer falsely arrested you based on an official city policy or practice.

You may be able to sue for false arrest under state common law, which allows a remedy directly against a municipality. There are strict prerequisites to suit under New York General Municipal Law § 50-e, including the requirement that you provide notice to the city within 90 days of the false arrest. Under state common law, you can use the doctrine of respondeat superior to hold the city vicariously liable for the police officer's misconduct.

Discuss Police Misconduct in New York City with an Experienced Attorney

If you are subject to a false arrest or other police misconduct in New York City, you may need the help of a civil rights lawyer. At Phillips & Associates, we offer knowledgeable representation for people whose civil rights have been infringed in all five boroughs of the City, including the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens. Contact us at (212) 248-7431 or through our online form.

Client Reviews
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Hands down the best law firm for labor disputes in NYC. Being in the restaurant industry for more than 30 years I can say that this law firm is the number one choice for workers in the restaurant business that need to sue their company for wrongful termination. A special compliment to my lawyer Brittany Stevens. An amazing person and well prepared experienced lawyer. She was professional and empathetic to my case and worked in a time appropriate manner. She never miss a phone call at any hour of the day.The other associates that assisted Brittany were Yusha Hiraman, Eugenio Benvenuto and Katerina Housos. They were all professional and answered any questions or concerns that I had. Brittany and her team helped me with what I needed, when I needed it. I want to thank them all (especially Brittany), for a job well done. Massimo
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Jesse Weinstein handled my discrimination case. He was extremely patient and understanding throughout the process and remained professional and consistent even when I could not. I really felt like he had my back and I didn't have to worry. His expertise, combined with the experience of the Firm, resulted in the best possible outcome of my case. Although I wouldn't wish what I went through on anyone, things do and always will happen and I would highly recommend Jesse and this Firm to anyone facing discrimination or other workplace issues. Karen
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I was a client with this law firm. I can't stress enough how awesome and professional the people are here. Silvia & Erica made me feel so comfortable and welcome. I never had to guess anything. Anytime I call, emailed, or even texted. They were always there. If not they would get back to me as soon as possible. My case was not an easy situation for me but I tell you these guys made it seem like it was. I'm so glad that I use Phillip & Phillip. I thank you guys from the bottom of my heart. I am so grateful to have met such awesome, honest, and caring people. Thank you again. Djuana
★★★★★
I highly recommend Parisis (Gerry) Fillippatos with Phillips & Associates to represent you for employment related matters. He and his team were professional, attentive to every detail and brilliant at identifying the legal grounds to win the case. Parisis's communication and delivery were highly articulate and precise. He is personable and makes you feel comfortable in the maze of legal jargon. Finally, his confidence, perseverance and masterful negotiation skills deliver the win. Anonymous
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I had an excellent experience with this team! Thanks, Marjorie, Brittany, and Candy for your great support and prompt answers to all my questions. I highly recommend this firm. This team works very hard and I am extremely happy with the results. Ana