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Polinske & Associates, P.C.

I Have Been Wrongfully Arrested. What Can I do About it?

If you have been arrested for a criminal offense when you did nothing wrong you may have the right to file a lawsuit against the police officers who caused you to be charged.  If you were charged with a misdemeanor offense typically the police can be sued directly as they are the persons who caused you to be charged.  If you were charged with a felony offense you may still be able to sue the police despite them not being the actual persons who charged you.  You can file a lawsuit in either federal or state court depending on the factual issues.  A Section 1983 lawsuit addresses excessive force and wrongful arrest as well as other violations of your constitutional rights.  A state lawsuit can allege malicious prosecution, Battery and other common law theories.  You may include state theories in your federal rights lawsuit if you file the case soon enough.  I prefer filing these cases in federal court for the reason that you will get to trial quicker.  As an attorney I can also be compensated by the police for my attorney's fees spent in prosecuting the civil rights case for my client.  

Damages which you can seek against the police include emotional distress, pain and suffering, medical bills, disfigurement, and attorney's fees you paid to defend you in an underlying criminal case which is the basis for a wrongful arrest lawsuit.  Aside from those damages, an attorney can seek his fees for prosecuting the civil suit pursuant to Section 1988 of the Civil Rights Act.  The potential risk of paying the attorney fees is oftentimes of foremost concern for insurance companies defending these actions.  It is not uncommon for $100,000+ attorney's fees being awarded against the police when a civil rights plaintiff wins their case.  

The process is fairly straightforward.  Identify what information you need prior to filing the lawsuit.  In Illinois State lawsuits your statute of limitations is one year.  In Federal courts your civil rights statute of limitations is two years.  File the lawsuit.  Serve the parties.  Complete a case management conference and discovery then defend the motions to dismiss and for summary judgment.  If you make it past that point you will present your case to a jury (or judge).  

I have sued police for many wrongful arrests and excessive force.  I have settled most cases and won the cases that don't settle.  As of this date I have not lost a single civil rights case.  If you believe you have a civil rights claim please call me to discuss.  


Brian L. Polinske
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