Can I Use Police Misconduct as a Defense?

Photo of arrestThere are legal limits that prohibit a police officer from going too far to detect a crime. If an officer crosses those lines, they may be violating your due process rights. If their actions are determined to be “outrageous,” there may be good cause for police misconduct as a defense.

When Is Police Misconduct Considered Outrageous?

Outrageous police misconduct involves any actions on the part of the officer or the government that violates a person’s rights to due process. Since there is not an exact measurement of when an officer’s conduct becomes outrageous, the court will generally be looking at any conduct which could be considered “shocking” or in gross violation of your rights.

Examples of outrageous police misconduct include actions by the police which set up a crime from beginning to end. Police are allowed to come into a crime that is already happening, but they cannot pressure you into committing a crime. Some examples include:

  • People v Shine – Undercover police arrived at the defendant’s house at night, brandished a loaded gun, accused him of selling them fake drugs, and demanded that the defendant bring them money and drugs. The court decided this was police misconduct and reversed a conviction for drug charges.
  • Commonwealth v Matthews – Police working undercover created a crime by providing defendants with the money, instructions for making meth, a chemist to show them how to make meth, and even provided a police owned vehicle to deliver supplies to the defendants. This is an example of the police creating a crime that may not have happened otherwise.
  • United States v Bogart – Coercion can also be outrageous, as seen in this case where police applied extreme pressure on a defendant to commit a crime by holding him in jail for false charges and high bail so that the only way he could make bail was to get involved in a drug sale.

What Doesn’t Count as Outrageous Misconduct?

Even if a jury finds an action by the police immoral or against their beliefs, it may not constitute outrageous misconduct. For example, in the case of Pauser v State, the court found that it was not misconduct for an officer to threaten to take the children of a defendant if they did not agree to cooperate in a sting. Even if the jury members don’t like it, it could be legal.

Talk with a criminal defense attorney if you believe you are a victim of police misconduct. The Lewisville defense lawyers at Julian, Crowder & Shuster have experience dealing with police and can help you mount an effective defense.

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