Police Misconduct Lawyer
As the victim of police misconduct in Florida, you have rights. Whether you’ve been wrongfully arrested, coerced into making a false statement, intimidated, or the victim of excessive force, O’Mara Law Group can help. Our police misconduct lawyers can bring a civil lawsuit against the abusive officer and the police department for the suffering you’ve endured.
Written and edited by our team of expert legal content writers and reviewed and approved by Attorney Mark O’Mara
Content last updated on: May 18, 2023
Disclaimer: The O‘Mara Law Group strives to provide the highest quality of legal representation for our clients. However, due to the volume of cases we receive, we reserve the right to select civil rights cases of national significance on a discretionary basis. We appreciate your understanding as we strive to provide the best possible service.
The police are supposed to enforce the law, but some officers believe that they’re above it. Between 2016 and 2021, at least 15,908 reports of police misconduct were filed against officers, departments, and agencies across the state of Florida. If you’ve been the victim of police misconduct in Florida, call O’Mara Law Group for help.
Our police misconduct lawyers can help you assert your civil rights, demand accountability from the abusive officer, and work to recover a meaningful financial award on your behalf.
O’Mara Law Group is a leading advocate for victims of police brutality, police misconduct, and other civil rights violations in Florida. We’re award-winning trial attorneys with more than 35 years of experience and national recognition for our hard work, dedication to our clients, and top results.
When your rights have been violated because of a police officer’s misconduct, we’ll be there to fight for you. Call our law offices in Orlando or Lakeland to schedule a free consultation to learn more. Our team is here to help 24/7/365.
What is police misconduct?
Police misconduct refers to unlawful or inappropriate actions taken by police officers in connection with their official duties. At its core, police misconduct is a violation of a person’s civil rights.
It’s important to note that police misconduct isn’t limited to patrol officers. Anyone acting “under color of law” — anyone who has authority extended to them by local, state, or federal government — can be guilty of unlawful acts of misconduct.
Allegations of police misconduct can involve:
- Police officers
- Correctional officers
- Probation officers
- Prison officials
You can experience acts of police misconduct at any point during your interactions with the police or other individuals in positions of governmentally-imposed authority.
What are some examples of police misconduct?
Common examples of police misconduct include:
- Excessive force
- Police brutality
- Sexual assault
- Falsifying evidence
- Planting evidence
- Falsifying police reports
- Witness tampering
- Witness intimidation
- Coercing confessions
- Racial profiling
- False arrest
- False imprisonment
- Prison abuse
- Failing to intervene when a person has been injured
- Failing to report another officer’s use of excessive force or police misconduct
- Indifference to a person’s medical condition
Ultimately, an act of police misconduct occurs any time your constitutional rights are violated. If you’re the victim of an unwarranted traffic stop, subject to an unreasonable search and seizure, or deprived of the right to speak with an attorney, call the civil rights attorneys at O’Mara Law Group for help.
Florida Police Misconduct Statistics
When it comes to acts of police misconduct, Florida ranks in the 43rd percentile.
Annually, roughly 2,500 reports of police misconduct are filed in the Sunshine State. That’s between six and seven acts of police misconduct every single day.
As a whole, the state ranks worse for police accountability. When a complaint is made, few are upheld.
Florida ranks in the:
- 42nd percentile for upholding complaints of police misconduct
- 6th percentile for upholding complaints of excessive force
- 8th percentile for upholding discrimination complaints
- 11th percentile for upholding complaints of criminal misconduct
According to this data collected by the Police Scorecard, Florida police officers are rarely held accountable for alleged acts of misconduct.
Specifically, the Orlando Police Department ranks in the 40th percentile overall in Florida cities with a population of more than 250,000. OPD’s police accountability score is slightly higher than the state average, but zero percent of the seven complaints of police discrimination from 2016 to 2021 were upheld.
Orlando ranks in the:
- 95th percentile for upholding complaints of misconduct
- 23rd percentile for upholding complaints of excessive force
Why does police misconduct happen?
Police officers are hired to protect and serve, so why do some officers violate their oath? Ultimately, acts of police misconduct can happen for a variety of reasons.
Desire or Pressure to “Win” Cases
There’s considerable pressure on police officers and prosecutors to control crime by making arrests and closing cases. Sometimes the facts and evidence simply aren’t on their side — or the evidence is hard to come by legally. To get an advantage, an officer might abuse their power to shift a case’s momentum in their favor.
Police officers and other representatives of the state can encounter potentially life-threatening situations every day on the job. An officer who becomes fearful might resort to excessive force or lying to keep themselves safe. However, fear alone is not an appropriate justification for overstepping authority or violating a person’s constitutional protections.
Florida spends billions of dollars on its police force every year, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the funds are being spent to train its officers properly. Officers who don’t receive foundational training at the academy or regular refresher courses on proper techniques and approaches to policing are more likely to engage in acts of misconduct.
Minorities are more likely than white civilians to die as a result of police misconduct. Minorities are also more likely to experience non-lethal acts of police misconduct, including false arrests, physical and sexual abuse, psychological abuse, and violations of constitutional rights.
Police officers may intentionally or unintentionally target minorities and overstep their authority, committing acts of police misconduct.
Police officers have a lot of power. The longer they’re on the job — and the more resistance they face from the community — the more they may rely on their authority to assert their status. In some cases, police officers may use their power to manufacture evidence, physically or psychologically control a suspect, or push the limits of the law to make their superiority known.
Police Misconduct is a Felony in the State of Florida
When a police officer engages in an act of misconduct in the state of Florida, a few things can happen.
First, they can be named in a personal injury lawsuit for assault and battery or the intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Second, they can be the focus of a Section 1983 lawsuit, in which a victim of police misconduct asserts that their constitutional rights have been violated by an officer acting under the color of law.
Finally, police officers can face criminal charges for acts of police misconduct. In fact, police misconduct is a felony offense in the state of Florida.
Florida’s official misconduct statute applies to public servants (e.g., police officers) acting with corrupt intent to gain a benefit or cause unlawful harm while:
- Falsifying official records or documents (or causing them to be falsified)
- Concealing, destroying, altering, or covering up an official document (or causing to be concealed, destroyed, altered, or mutilated)
- Obstructing, delaying, or preventing the dissemination of information about a felony involving a public agency
So, if a police officer causes harm — defined to include an injury, disadvantage, or financial loss — when intentionally committing one of these acts, they can be charged with a third-degree felony and face up to five years in a Florida state prison.
What’s the statute of limitations for police misconduct lawsuits in Florida?
Whether you bring a personal injury claim under Florida state law or file a Section 1983 lawsuit against an abusive police officer, you’ll have four years to file your claim.
Once the statute of limitations runs out, you will give up the opportunity to demand rightful compensation for the inexcusable violation of your civil rights. It’s important to reach out to an experienced civil rights attorney near you in Florida for help as soon as you can.
Trusted Florida Police Misconduct Lawyers Ready to Fight for You
While a police officer can lose their job or potentially face criminal charges for acts of misconduct, that won’t help to make things right with you. Fortunately, as the victim of police misconduct in Florida, you have rights.
You can file a civil rights action under Section 1983 of the U.S. Code to seek compensatory damages, punitive damages, and the cost of attorney’s fees. O’Mara Law Group can help you fight to maximize your financial award and ultimately secure financial justice for the devastating experience you’ve endured.
We understand that you’re up against the entire police force, and it’s your word against theirs. Our award-winning Florida trial attorneys are ready to dig deep and prove that you’ve been the victim of an inexcusable and unjustifiable act. We’ll invest all the resources and time necessary to win your police misconduct case.
Call our law offices, conveniently located in Orlando and Lakeland, to learn more. Your first consultation is free, so contact us today.
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