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  1. #1

    Default Wrongfully Arrested, Violation of 4th Amendment

    My question involves civil rights in the State of: Washington

    A few evenings ago I was called by some friends that were having a fight. By the time I got there the sheriffs office had already arrived. as soon as I got there one of the deputies started immediately yelling at me and telling me I was trying to hit him with my vehicle. Him and I argue about it for a minute, but that didn't go any direction. The other deputy comes up and tells me I need to leave the area while he does his investigation or I will be arrested. I say that I will comply, then ask how far down the road he would like me to move my vehicle. After I ask that, he orders my arrest for not leaving.

    While being booked in the county jail, the officer checking me in asks the sheriff if he should just let me go, and if not he has no reason to hold me. I overhear the sheriff tell him to keep me so I "learn my lesson". Eventually off to my cell I go.

    For the first few hours I am alone in my cell. Then I get someone sent to the cell also, as they're putting him in they tell him that he needs to take his medications. The few hours were together in the cell before my hearing this other individual is coughing all the time and gasping.

    Eventually I get sent to my hearing the next day, which is done through video correspondence since they want to keep social distancing. I sit down, the prosecuting attorney says they lack evidence and wish to drop the case. I'm sitting down for about 5 minutes total, then I'm out.

    My court papers say Finding --Lack of evidence, Interest of justice, and then a handwritten note "at this time, the state is concerned that not all elements of the crime can be proven based on teh police reports".

    My problems are; after I've agreed to move my vehicle, per the commands, they still arrested me. In doing so, they put my health at risk (especially since the courts think the coronavirus is serious enough that they are doing video conferencing instead of in person). The individual who was roomed with me had no idea why they moved him to my cell, he was previously in a different cell and was not moved to his final cell (he knew he would be at the jail for another 10+ days still). This individual who was moved to the cell with me was ill, staff knew this because they issued him medication already.

    Do I have any room for taking legal actions in endangering my health, my life, and violating my 4th amendment rights against unreasonable seizure?

    **I have the encounter with the sheriff's office recorded on my cell phone, clearly hearing the command to move, me saying I will and asking how far they'd like, and then them arresting me. Previous to this encounter I have never been to jail**

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Wrongfully Arrested, Violation of 4th Amendment

    Quote Quoting spokanedriver
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    My question involves civil rights in the State of: Washington


    Do I have any room for taking legal actions in endangering my health, my life, and violating my 4th amendment rights against unreasonable seizure?
    As least as you tell it, it would appear that the arrest was indeed wrongful as the police lacked reasonable cause to make the arrest. The thing is, that for a civil rights violation the U.S. Supreme Court court has held that you are only entitled to nominal damages of $1 unless you suffered some actual damages from the violation. If you suffer actual damages, like financial loss, physical harm that resulted in medical bills, permanent injury, and or pain and suffering you could sue for compensation for those damages. If you did actually get sick from the other prisoner you may have a personal injury claim, too. But with a personal injury claim you are again limited to recovering compensation for the actual damages you had. Lawsuits can get expensive, so you'd need for your damages to be large enough to make the cost of suing the police worthwhile.

    I don't know all the facts, like whether you have other damages you've not mentioned, whether you might yet get sick from exposure to the other prisoner, and, importantly I don't know what police would offer by way of a defense. Those things are important to deciding how worthwhile it would be to sue the police over this. The good news is that most personal injury and civil rights lawyers will give you a free initial consultation so you have nothing to lose but a little bit of your time to consult two or three attorneys to see if they think you have something worth pursuing. I suggest seeing more than one because attorneys can have differing outlooks on what is a good case and have different levels of risk tolerance in the cases they take. Also, you want to find an attorney whom you feel really comfortable with and the first one you interview may not end up being the best fit for you. Finally, if you are going to do this, do it pretty quickly as there may be a pretty limited period of time to to start the process to sue the police under your state's law I've not checked the Washington law on what it requires when suing municipalities.

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    Default Re: Wrongfully Arrested, Violation of 4th Amendment

    A review of the poster's hx is informative.

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    Default Re: Wrongfully Arrested, Violation of 4th Amendment

    It is important to note that the disposition appears to have been because the prosecutor lacked the evidence to prove the elements of the offense - that's not the same as saying the arrest lacked probable cause. This happens with some frequency and does not usually rise to the level of any form of potential civil action - particularly a 1983 action as the OP appears to be alleging.
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    Default Re: Wrongfully Arrested, Violation of 4th Amendment

    I don't think he's basing his complaint purely on the fact that the charges were later dismissed. He doesn't say exactly what he was arrested for, but the given his statements on face value and the fact that others questioned the validity of the arrest, he might have such a claim. The problem, as TM points out, is that pursuing this with out actual damage (and "I coulda been sick as a result" doesn't equate to "I was sick as a result").

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    Default Re: Wrongfully Arrested, Violation of 4th Amendment

    Quote Quoting Taxing Matters
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    . The good news is that most personal injury and civil rights lawyers will give you a free initial consultation so you have nothing to lose but a little bit of your time to consult two or three attorneys to see if they think you have something worth pursuing.
    The law firms that give free consultation do it for their profit and in the interest of justice. So unless there are significant dollars to be made or the client is willing to pay (regardless of the outcome) big rates, it pointless to get a free consultation.

    You point out that OP could only recover actual damages. So what is the point? A total waste of time.

    A better idea is to contact law clinics from universities and services that are interested in justice and not profit.

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    Default Re: Wrongfully Arrested, Violation of 4th Amendment

    for a civil rights violation the U.S. Supreme Court court has held that you are only entitled to nominal damages of $1 unless you suffered some actual damages from the violation.

    Since the OP can only recover minimal damages, what can a law clinic do that a lawyer cannot?

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    Default Re: Wrongfully Arrested, Violation of 4th Amendment

    They can adjudicate the case in the interest of justice, preservation of constitutional law and not for profit.

    Many many years ago I (and 4 other defendants) where represented by the Rutgers Constitutional law clinic (one of the best in the country) in a defamation SLAPP suit. It was a 1st amendment freedom of speech suit in a political setting. They did a fantastic job and all pro bono. Nobody made any money but the case law was established.

    There is a case just filed in Wisconsin in federal court seeking only nominal damages because a 16 year old posted something on Instagram and she and her parents were threatened with arrest if she didn't take it down.

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    Default Re: Wrongfully Arrested, Violation of 4th Amendment

    Quote Quoting budwad
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    The law firms that give free consultation do it for their profit and in the interest of justice. So unless there are significant dollars to be made or the client is willing to pay (regardless of the outcome) big rates, it pointless to get a free consultation.
    Not necessarily pointless. There may be facts the OP has not disclosed that might make this case worthwhile to pursue. I'm not going to assume that we have all the relevant facts here. If we do then the apparent lack of damages would make this one not worth pursuing.

    Quote Quoting budwad
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    You point out that OP could only recover actual damages. So what is the point? A total waste of time.
    I've given the OP the law on what can be recovered in such a lawsuit. It's now up to him to decide if he might have something worth at least discussing with a lawyer. It costs him nothing but his time to do it. So it's up to him to decide if it might be a waste of time.

    Quote Quoting budwad
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    A better idea is to contact law clinics from universities and services that are interested in justice and not profit.
    He can do that, but I will tell you that in my experience they won't take the kind of case he described because it won't serve their interests in pursuing justice or whatever other goal they have. Suing a police department to get a nominal judgment of $1 hardly punishes the police department and wouldn't help to discourage what the cop did in the least, right? So considering all the requests for their limited resources they are going to put those resources into cases that might actually make a difference.

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    Default Re: Wrongfully Arrested, Violation of 4th Amendment

    I worked, at one time, for the law firm that supports the Harvard law school clinic; my best friend still does and I work for the university. While my exposure to the clinic was not extensive, I know enough to know that it is unlikely that they would offer more than a consultation for this kind of a case.

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