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What Is the Definition of Police Harassment?

What Is the Definition of Police Harassment?

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What Is the Definition of Police Harassment?

The police have legal grounds to be able to speak to citizens and investigate certain possible crimes, but their efforts to obtain relevant information cannot cross a line into unnecessary force or harassment. If and when this happens, a victim has legal rights.

You may have grounds to pursue a legal claim against an individual officer or a police department if you can show that you were the victim of police harassment. This makes it important to research what is the definition of police harassment in advance of filing a claim, so that you can greatly increase your chances of success with any legal claim. 

Police officers acting in accordance with the discretion provided to them may be irritating to you, but this does not necessarily mean that they have broken the law and engaged in police harassment. When an officer continuously stops someone or engages in a behavioral pattern, however, this can be seen as complete harassment. This entitles the victim to pursue legal action to put a stop to the repeated actions of the officer and to protect their privacy. 

If you suspect that you have already been a victim of this behavior, you'll want to sit down with an attorney to discuss your case. A lawyer can help you more clearly understand when your case has crossed the grounds for police harassment and the kinds of evidence you will need to bring forward to protect your rights. Because it is a serious matter to accuse someone of police harassment, you should always be properly informed before opening a case.

Defining Police Harassment

An unfortunately common form of police misconduct, police harassment is not something that all people are aware of. It is a far too frequent occurrence, and many people have a newfound heightened sense of awareness around police officer actions as a result of all of the media stories in the last few years. 
Police harassment occurs when someone continually or arbitrarily stops a person. This is an abuse of power and involves the harassment of innocent citizens. For example, if there is no legal basis for a police officer to stop an innocent person or to conduct an unwarranted search, this can be seen as police harassment. This can also have legal implications for any evidence collected from an individual during such a stop. 

Some police officers are involved in harassment because of the feeling of power and authority that it provides them, but others may be retaliating directly against those who they believe have wronged them. Lashing out at individual people or groups of people that police officers dislike can meet the grounds for the definition of police harassment. If you have been the victim of police harassment, you need to discuss the specifics of your case with an experienced lawyer to determine what is the definition of police harassment, and how it might apply in your situation.

Examples of Police Harassment

Some of the most common types of police harassment include intimidation, false arrest, sexual harassment, off-duty harassment, political repression, ethnic profiling, excessive force, illegal detention, illegal search and seizure, and illegal stop and frisk. 

Unfortunately, illegal stop and frisk activity has been on the rise in recent years, leading many people to investigate their rights to pursue a claim against an officer who has engaged in this activity. Many different actions could be classified as police harassment, but stop and frisk has been at the top of the list for several years of the most common behavior. This is a situation in which police officers use legitimate police protocols that are intended to stop crime or to capture criminals and instead use it against innocent people. Even though police officers do have the right to stop and question U.S. citizens, they cannot stop anyone they want or arbitrarily select people to be questioned. 

Officers must have what is known as reasonable grounds to suspect that a crime has been committed and that the citizen was involved in the crime. Law enforcement officers, however, do have some ability to engage in what is known as a limited protection search. But these searches should not be used to harass people. Unfortunately, police officers might tell you that they have reasonable suspicion, but this does not always mean that it meets the legal grounds of such in court. This makes it very important for you to retain an experienced attorney who understands what is the definition of police harassment and who can gather the appropriate evidence to file a claim against an officer who has broken this law. If you have been the victim of police brutality or harassment, you could be entitled to compensation and may be eligible to file a complaint against the officer. 

Victims of police brutality or harassment should be able to hold abusive police officers accountable for their actions. This can help to compensate you for the individual circumstance in which you suffered, but it can also send an important message to the police officers about their actions, which can help protect others in the future.

No one should be able to get away with abusing their power over the citizens in your area, and you deserve justice. It is very important to identify an attorney who has strong experience in this area of the law because he or she will be more easily able to navigate the complex legal system and provide you with the support and understanding that you need during this difficult time. 

When there are so many questions to be answered beyond what is the definition of police harassment, you need to have an advocate in your corner who will work hard to fight for your best rights and help protect you against illegal searches and seizures, police brutality, or other situations in which your rights have been violated.

Since no one should have to go through these situations on their own, protect your right to a legal claim by contacting an attorney immediately while the facts of the harassment case are still fresh in your mind. 

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  • Does Police Harassment Impact My Criminal Case? 

    If you have been accused of a crime, you may have questions about whether or not allegations of police harassment will impact the outcome of that case. It is certainly true that your criminal defense attorney will spring into action as soon as possible to collect all possible defenses to any criminal allegations, and it includes situations in which the police have violated your rights or harassed you. This can help to bolster the defense of your case if the police harassment included illegal actions, such as illegal searches and seizures. 

    Given that this could influence your criminal case in a few ways, find an attorney who is experienced both in general defense for your criminal charges as well as someone who knows how to handle situations when officers have crossed the line into harassment. 

    The civil claim that could be filed against an officer or officers for harassment is separate from your criminal charge, however. If your lawyer believes that you have a claim for police harassment, make sure they have the right experience managing both types of claims so that you have the best chance of success on the civil and criminal side. 

  • Hiring the Right Lawyer 

    When seeking out lawyers to help with police harassment, make sure you do thorough research first. You can learn a lot by checking out a law firm’s reviews and website. If you can see past case results or testimonials from other clients about police harassment cases, this is a great start.

    Many law firms provide a free initial consultation. In this consultation, you’re able to ask questions about your specific case so that you know what to expect going forward. You are not required to work with any lawyer you meet in person. If you decide to work with that firm, however, you’ll sign an agreement for them to handle your police harassment case. Since you’ve already been through so much with police harassment, finding the right law firm to help you can make a world of difference in protecting you going forward and in reducing your stress overall. 

    Contact our experienced police harassment attorneys today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation to get started. We’re here to help. 

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