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Excessive Force and the Police


Incidents where a private citizen’s constitutional rights are violated by police officers happen with relative frequency here in Texas. You here about it all the time in the news and the attorneys here at Guest and Gray know this because we see it in our practice. Here at Guest and Gray, many of our clients facing criminal charges are quite often subjected to constitutional violations during their arrest or the investigatory stop that led to their arrest. Constitutional violations occur in many ways, but due to increased news coverage of such violations, police officers around the country are experiencing increased scrutiny related to their alleged excessive use of force, and for good reason.

If you feel like your rights have been violated, then you need to know what your options are and where you can turn for help.

One of the many common complaints is that the police officer used too much force, or “excessive force” during the stop. So, what is “excessive force”? The phrase “excessive force” is often used to refer to people who have had an incident with the police where the police officer, or officers, used more force than necessary and it caused you harm.

In Graham v. Connor, The Supreme Court of the United States described how to determine what type of force is excessive in a very broad way. Using their They said that when addressing an excessive force claim, you should identify the constitutionally protected right that was allegedly infringed by the application of force and then review that complaint under the appropriate constitutional standard that governs that right. Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 394 (1994).

Okay, what does that mean? It means that people have constitutional rights and when there is a complaint the court will use a specific constitutional standard to determine whether not the person’s rights have been violated.

Like I said, it is pretty broad. But it becomes much narrower once you identify the specific right that has been violated. For instance, if an officer arrests you or conducts an investigatory stop, then your excessive force claim would, in all likelihood, fall under the 4th amendments rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. 4th amendment claims have their own constitutional standard. Broad to narrow, just like I said.

Here is the positive: the broad to narrow approach makes clearer the steps we have to take to protect your rights. Here is the negative: having those steps does not mean proving your case becomes any easier. In fact, proving your case only becomes more difficult as the steps get narrower and narrower. This is because the case becomes more fact intense and we have to pay careful attention to each detail.

This brings us closer to the “how we can help you” part. If you feel that your rights have been violated by anyone, especially an officer of the law, or some other person acting for the state, then you need to speak to the attorneys at Guest and Gray Law Firm. We know what it takes, and we will fight to protect your Constitutional rights. Call us Today!

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