Suing for Wrongful Arrest in New York City

Wrongful arrest, or false arrest, is the unlawful detention of an individual by a police officer, security guard, or other person, and is illegal under Federal and State laws. In addition, a citizen who has been falsely arrested or detained may bring a civil action against the person or entity who made the arrest. A claim for wrongful arrest may be made when:

  1. A police officer stops and searches a vehicle without probable cause and later arrests the driver or passengers. If the initial stop was not lawful, anything found during a search of the vehicle or its occupants may not be used as grounds for an arrest or detention. According to one lawsuit filed against the city in 2020, police officers in Bronx County and Manhattan repeatedly stopped a Hispanic man simply because they believed the car he was driving was “too nice.” The officers involved in the stop had been named in previous lawsuits for targeting people of color for illegal traffic stops.
  2. The police arrest an individual for a crime without probable cause to believe that the individual was guilty. Even if the charges are eventually dropped for lack of evidence, a wrongfully accused person may spend weeks or months in jail awaiting trial, have to spend thousands of dollars on legal fees, lose their job, and/or suffer irreparable damage to their reputation.
  3. A private security guard detains someone for shoplifting without having sufficient evidence to believe that a crime occurred.
  4. A private citizen who gives false information to the police, resulting in the arrest or detention of an innocent person.

When a claim for wrongful arrest is made against a police officer or security guard, both the individual and his/her employer may be named in the lawsuit. Security camera footage, police bodycam footage, eyewitness accounts, and independent cell phone videos may all be helpful in determining whether an arrest was lawful, or whether probable cause existed for a traffic stop or detention. In any lawsuit against a governmental agency, there are strict reporting requirements and time limits, so a claimant should contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Talk to a civil rights expert at the law firm of Mirman, Markovits & Landau, P.C. today, by calling 212-227-4000. Visit our website for more information about our attorneys.