What to do if you believe your rights have been violated

While police misconduct may occur with a disturbing regularity across the country, there are a number of effective strategies which victims may employ to hold police officers and agencies responsible for any instance of misconduct. Should you ever become the victim of police misconduct, the ACLU outlines a few things you will need to keep in mind so that you may be well positioned to later challenge that misconduct.

First and foremost, you should never physically resist police officers nor should you ever threaten to file a letter of complaint at the time of the incident; police misconduct cannot be challenged on the spot like that. Instead, verbally express that you intend to exercise your right to remain silent and immediately request a lawyer.

You will need to make every effort to remember everything you possibly can—specifically things like the names and badge numbers of the acting officers and their patrol car number—and write those details down as soon as you possibly can. If you were injured in the course of the incident, you should immediately seek medical attention and photograph your injuries.

If you have not already done so, it is advisable that you retain legal representation and then file a clearly written complaint to the internal affairs section of the applicable police agency. Once you have the opportunity to do so, you may wish to contact your local ACLU office to further explore your legal options.