Most traffic stops and chance police encounters end peacefully. Yet, on occasion, these can escalate. An officer may arrest you during a stop for reasons that remain unclear. If they apprehend you without cause or reason, they have likely made a false arrest.

Understanding false arrests

Officers have jurisdiction to stop you if they suspect you of committing a crime. But when they perform an investigatory stop, it must remain quick and nonintrusive. If they discover no probable cause to arrest you, they must let you go. Yet, if they apprehended you against your will and without probable cause, their actions could qualify as a false arrest.

Your apprehension must also meet four criteria to constitute a false arrest. These criteria are:

  • The officer intended to confine you
  • The officer lacked privilege (probable cause) to confine you
  • You were aware of your confinement
  • You did not consent to your arrest and confinement

Understanding your protections

Both Georgia law and federal law protect people against false arrest. If a judge and jury convict the officer who arrested you, state law provides that they will have to pay fines and could face a prison sentence. If they harmed, manhandled or threatened you, you can pursue damages through a civil lawsuit as well. These will help compensate any injuries or pain and suffering the arrest caused you. Furthermore, the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution grants citizens freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. Without probable cause, an officer’s seizure of you becomes unreasonable and unconstitutional.

If an officer violated your rights through false arrest, you must protect yourself. An attorney who has experience working with victims of police misconduct can help you do so.