Illegal Detention

Illegally Detained/Arrested by Police?

Being detained by an officer for the wrong reason may violate your civil rights under the Fourth Amendment. This is sometimes called a False Imprisonment. The law that covers illegal detentions is riddled with complexity. Here are some of the more usual scenarios:

Pat Down

Where an officer has no basis to suspect that you are involved in criminal activity, or that you are armed and dangerous, it is a violation of your civil rights to be patted down or searched. In fact, in many instances, you have the constitutional right to decline to identify yourself where there is an utter lack of evidence that you are involved in any kind of criminal conduct.

To detain you for a short amount of time, an officer must have a “reasonable suspicion” that you are involved in some kind of criminal activity. Terry v. Ohio (1968) 392 U.S. 1. This is sometimes called a “Terry Stop.”

The police may also search your outer garments only if the officer has a reasonable and articulable suspicion that you are armed and dangerous.

Therefore, if the detention was illegal or if the search of your person was illegal, your rights may have been violated.

Car Stop

A police officer make stop you while driving whenever there is probable cause to believe you have violated a traffic law. Wren v. U.S. (1996) 517 U.S. 806. Therefore, a detailed analysis of the circumstances of why your were pulled over and whether that can be proven is necessary to determine of the car stop was legal.
Unreasonably Long Detention

But the detention may become unreasonable in length or scope when it is not justified in light of its original purpose. So for an officer to continue holding you, or to expand the investigation, they must obtain sufficient evidence to justify the increasing intrusion upon your liberty. Bletz v. Gribble (6th Cir. 2011) 641 F.3d 743.

If you were taken to the police station to be questioned further, the investigative detention is not supported by the constitution and may have violated your rights.

Detention During a Search

If you were detained in your home, business, or other person’s property requires a very thorough analysis of your case. Many people are held against their will when someone else is the suspect in an investigation. But it is unfair to hold you in detention when you have done nothing wrong.

As a general rule, however, police may detain you temporarily while a legally valid search of the area is conducted to prevent flight, minimize the risk of harm to the police, and to further the completion of the search. Mueller v. Mena (2005) 544 U.S. 93.

But to be detained and interrogated for the investigation is not reasonable. Ganwich v. Knapp (9th Cir. 2003) 319 F.3d 1115.