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Excessive force and your rights after a police interaction

When you are stopped for a traffic crime or approached by a police officer for a crime of another type, the last thing that should happen is for the officer to use excessive force. There are times when force is necessary, but many times it is not.

If you are victimized by police during an arrest or traffic stop, it's important that you reach out to your attorney. He or she can help you fight back against the use of excessive force and make sure you're compensated for the treatment you received.

What is necessary force?

Necessary force includes using enough force to prevent a person's escape from captivity. Additionally, necessary force may include forceful acts if the officer has reason to believe that the subject poses a serious threat to those around him or her or oneself.

What is unnecessary force?

Unnecessary force is when an officer uses more force than is necessary for the situation. For example, when arresting a drunk driver who is complying, there is little to no reason to shove him or her to the ground or to use a taser on the driver.

Are there levels of appropriate force?

There are five levels of force recognized by the authorities and courts. First, there is physical presence. This is when an officer is simply present at the scene. The next is verbalization. For example, an officer tells you to stop. Empty-hand control is the third level. This is when the officer uses only his or her physical body force to control you or someone else.

Following this, there are less lethal methods and lethal force. Less lethal methods might include tasers or force through the use of a baton. Lethal force uses lethal weapons, like the officer's gun.

What can you do if an officer uses excessive force?

It's against the law and a violation of the U.S. Constitution to use excessive force. You can file a civil rights complaint against the officer to obtain monetary or injunctive relief with the help of your attorney.

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