Any use of force by a law enforcement officer must be “objectively reasonable.” In other words, force is unconstitutional if a reasonable, well-trained officer in the same situation would have known that the force was excessive.
Law enforcement officers are only allowed to use deadly force to protect themselves or others from death or great bodily harm. An officer’s belief that deadly force is necessary must be be objectively reasonable.
Failure to Intervene
A government employee who witnesses a constitutional violation, such as excessive force, and does not try to stop it may be held responsible for the violation.
Unlawful Search and Seizure
All government searches and seizures must be reasonable. Whether or not a search is reasonable depends on many factors. A home typically may not be searched without a warrant. However, a warrant is not required if there are exigent, or urgent, circumstances or if the owner consents. A car may be searched without a warrant and a person may be stopped and “patted down” based only on an officer’s “reasonable suspicion” that “criminal activity is afoot.”
Malicious prosecution occurs when a police officer files false criminal charges for an improper reason. To pursue a malicious prosecution claim, you must have a “favorable termination” of the criminal proceedings (a plea or ARD agreement does not count), there must have been no probable cause for the charges in the first place and you must be able to prove that the officer’s motive was corrupt.
A false arrest is a seizure of a person without probable cause to believe that he or she has committed a crime. If the person is detained, it may become false imprisonment.