Being arrested and charged with a crime can be one of the scariest and most traumatic experienced of a person’s life, but it can be made even more traumatic if you are assaulted by the police in the course of your arrest. Many people may be afraid to speak up and make a complaint about the conduct of the officer for fear that it could negatively affect their underlying charges. As such, many cases of assault and abuse at the hands of Philadelphia police officers go unreported and these “bad apples” are allowed to keep bringing down the integrity of the entire force. At The Law Offices of Lloyd Long, skilled Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer Lloyd Long can help you deal with the underlying charges in such a way as to protect your rights and give you the best chance of your case reaching a successful resolution. At the same time, we can advise you how to file a complaint against the officer who assaulted you, and even refer you to another attorney who specializes in this area if we believe your matter merits the filing of a civil suit.
What Constitutes Assault by a Police Officer in Philadelphia?
While the police are not permitted to use force on you for no reason, there are situations where a “reasonable use of force” against a suspect is permitted and would not constitute the crime of aggravated assault in Philadelphia. According to the Philadelphia Police Department’s “Use of Force Decision Chart,” no force should be used unless an offender is “resisting and non-compliant” and the use of verbal commands and mere officer presence has not been successful in quelling them. In such a situation, the officers may be justified is using limited physical force such as grabbing the suspect and physically controlling their hands or using pepper spray to stop them. If force is used in a situation where you were being compliant or more force than necessary was used in a situation where you were non-compliant but did not represent a likely physical threat, however, the officer may have committed an assault against you.
If you behave in a way that demonstrates “physically aggressive or assaultive behavior that presents an immediate likelihood of injury to yourself or others, the officer is permitted to respond with what is known as “less lethal force,” which includes using a baton or an electronic control weapon like a taser. However, they may not use deadly force, such as a firearm, unless the officer has an “objectively reasonable belief” that there is an immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury to someone. If the officer uses deadly force where less lethal force was called for, assault may have occurred. If you were arrested for assaulting the police in retaliation, contact our Philadelphia defense lawyers for assault on a police officer today.
How to Deal with an Assault by a Police Officer after an Arrest in Philadelphia
First and foremost, if the assault occurred before, during, or after an arrest, you need to deal with the underlying criminal charges against you and the fact that you will be held in jail. If the assault against you is particularly serious, you may be transported to a hospital or the medical unit in the closest detention center. Otherwise, your preliminary arraignment and bail hearing, where the judge decides if you can be released or must remain in custody until the case is resolved, will occur no more than 72 hours after your arrest and booking. For this reason, it is vital that you or a loved one reach out to a skilled Philadelphia and Bucks County criminal defense attorney like those at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long as soon after your arrest as possible.
At your bail hearing, the judge will decide if you can be released and then will decide whether bail should be set and, if so, at what amount. Our experienced Philadelphia bail hearing attorneys at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long know the factors that the judge considers in making their decision, including the nature and severity of the charges against you, your criminal record or lack thereof, and your ties to the local community, and can use these to make the most persuasive argument for your release on little to no bail. At your arraignment, where you are asked to enter an initial plea of guilty or not guilty, we are likely to advise you to plead not guilty while we collect all the evidence and try to work out a deal with the prosecutor for the charges to be dismissed or downgraded.
In some cases, we may be able to use the alleged assault committed against you as a bargaining chip in our plea negotiations or as evidence in your favor at trial. In such instances, we will likely advise you to file an official complaint with the police regarding the officer’s violent behavior toward you. In other scenarios, however, it may be best for your case for us as your criminal defense attorneys not to even broach the subject of the assault and simply to focus on getting the charges against you dismissed.
After the case is finished, we can then focus on assisting you with filing a complaint against the officer. If we think you have a potential civil case, we can refer you to a civil attorney who can file the case on your behalf. In terms of criminal charges against the officer for assault, this is a rarity, and is up the charging discretion of the local prosecutor. Usually, a civil suit is the best route to go to get some renumeration and bring attention to the matter.
If You Have Been Assaulted by a Philadelphia Police Officer Before, During, or After an Arrest, Call Our Criminal Defense Attorneys Right Away
Anytime you are arrested, the first focus of our experienced Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long will be working to get you out of jail and get the charges against you downgraded or dismissed. However, if you believe you were assaulted by an officer during the course of the arrest or its aftermath, we can also assist you in filing an official complaint against the officer for assault or use of excessive force, and referring you to a civil attorney if you are interested in pursuing a civil suit against the department. Call us today at (800) 681-1295 for a free consultation.