Wrongful arrests are a tricky subject to discuss because there is the legal explanation and then there is the reality of wrongful arrest. If you are dealing with wrongful arrest, then the first thing to do is nothing. Do not resist. You may think that it is a violation of your rights and it may be but law enforcement officers have qualified immunity. That means that it is very hard to take an officer to court because of a false arrest, they are protected during discretionary acts. The law states that you can resist a false arrest but only under specific circumstances:
- If you do not know that they are a law officer so you think you are being kidnapped
- If you think you will be a victim of police brutality if you are arrested
- If you think that the officer that is arresting you is an impersonator.
Even though the law says that you can resist in those situation, the reality is, if it turns out that they are a valid officer of the law then you are in a lot of trouble. If you are arrested falsely you should show the officer respect and go quietly. Once you are at the police station, ask for a lawyer and do not say anything until they arrive. There are no off the record conversations with the police. Even if they say that they just want to have a friendly conversation to clear a few things up, keep your mouth shut until your attorney arrives.
False arrest is a little different if you are dealing with a retail security person. The last thing that a store wants to do is being known for falsely arresting a customer. So, stores go by the following checklist to ensure a valid arrest:
- They have to see you approach the item
- They have to see you select it
- They have to see you conceal or hide it in some way
- They have to keep continuous watch on you
- They have to watch you bypass the registers and not pay for it
- They must apprehend you outside of the business
So until they can prove that they followed all of these steps, they will not attempt an arrest. In either situation, the most important things to remember are to remain civil, calm and contact a lawyer as soon as possible. No matter what they say, no one is there to represent your interests unless it is your attorney.