Can I Sue the Police in California?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Aug 26, 2015 | 0 Comments

Individuals who have been the victim of police misconduct in California may file a criminal complaint.  However, various types of police misconduct could constitute a crime, civil cause of action, or both. Victims may consider filing a civil rights lawsuit in order to be financially compensated for the harm they suffered if a police department or individual officer is found civilly liable.

The California Tort Claims Act requires a written claim to be filed within the six-month time limit before a lawsuit may be filed against the state, county, governmental agency or government employee. Some of the more common California torts for which law enforcement may include:

  • battery
  • wrongful death
  • false imprisonment
  • false arrest
  • negligence
  • defamation

Additionally, victims of police misconduct may also sue the police on the basis of constitutional violations under the First, Fourth as well as Eighth Amendments.

Can 20i 20sue 20the 20police 20in 20california 20%281%29
Suing the police in California
  • First Amendment

Under the First Amendment, police officers may be sued for retaliating against individuals engaged in protected freedom of speech.

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits unreasonable government searches and seizures. If the police conduct an illegal search without a proper warrant, victims may file a civil lawsuit.

The Eighth Amendment prohibits government officers from inflicting cruel and unusual punishment. The police may be sued for subjecting a victim to unreasonable pain or torment while incarcerated.

Section 1983 of the United States Code permits victims of police misconduct to file a civil lawsuit against government actors who have significantly harmed them while acting under the "color of state law." A  Section 1983 claim requires the victim to prove all of the following:

  • There was a violation of the victim's constitutional rights;
  • The perpetrator of the constitutional violation was committed by an individual acting under color of law (such as a police officer); and
  • The government agent who committed the violation was not immune from liability.

Depending upon the police misconduct and cause of action for the civil tort lawsuit, victims may receive compensatory damages, payment for pain and suffering, loss of income, and punitive damages.  If your constitutional rights have been violated by the police, contact us to discuss your case. (Also refer to our articles, "What if cops get caught writing a false police report in California?" and "Informants must meet certain standards under California law.")

About the Author

Neil Shouse

A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Comments have been disabled.

Free attorney consultations...

The attorneys at Shouse Law Group bring more than 100 years collective experience fighting for individuals. We're ready to fight for you. Call us 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at 855-LAW-FIRM for a free case evaluation.

Regain peace of mind...

Shouse Law Defense Group has multiple locations throughout California. Click Office Locations to find out which office is right for you.

Office Locations

Shouse Law Group has multiple locations all across California, Nevada, and Colorado. Click Office Locations to find out which office is right for you.

Call us 24/7 (855) 396-0370