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Can police use excessive force when arresting on murder charges?

Jun 27, 2024 | Violent Crimes

When faced with charges such as murder, the dynamics of an arrest can be intense and full of high emotion. Law enforcement has the power to use force to make an arrest. But, there are strict rules and limits to prevent abuse and excessive force. Understanding these rules is crucial for anyone involved in or witnessing such scenarios.

Defining excessive force

Excessive force occurs when the force used during an arrest is more than necessary. In California, an officer’s knowledge at the time of arrest forms the basis for determining reasonable force standards.

These circumstances can involve the threat level posed by the accused. If there is a risk of danger to police or others, more force may be necessary. Additionally, officers consider the level of resistance the individual being arrested shows. 

The logic follows that more severe crimes might warrant a higher level of force. But, this does not override all limits. Officials should still aim to use only the force needed to make an arrest.

Legal framework

It’s important to familiarize yourself with California and federal civil rights laws. These laws contain rules for using force during arrest.

  • California Penal Code: This code gives law enforcement officers guidelines on the use of force during arrests.
  • Civil Rights Violations: The Fourth Amendment protects individuals against unreasonable searches and seizures. If an officer violates their civil rights during an arrest, victims can seek justice through civil rights claims. To file this type of claim, victims must prove that officers used excessive force.

Knowing the law can give context to your arrest. Violation may be grounds for more legal action.

What to do if excessive force is suspected

When you or someone you know is a victim of what you believe to be excessive force during an arrest, it’s important to take action.

First, obtain all possible evidence. This can include photographs of injuries and witness statements. If you feel that the behavior was inappropriate, your next step should be to file a complaint. Filing a complaint with the police or a civilian board can help prevent more violations and hold officers accountable.

After handling these crucial steps you may choose to consult with a criminal defense attorney. They can advise on both the defense against homicide charges and potential claims for excessive force.

Understanding and asserting your rights

The right to be free from excessive force is fundamental, regardless of the charges against an individual. Enforcing this right requires understanding the legal standards and being ready to act if they are not met. Whether defending a murder charge or addressing potential excessive force, it’s essential to know there is a way forward.