Police officers need to follow the law just like ordinary citizens. There is no special card or free pass officers get that allows them to break the law whether they are on or off duty.

Just like you and me, if an officer commits a crime and is found guilty, he or she will have to pay a fine or spend time in jail. This is true for cops when they commit crimes outside of their work as a police officer and for when they break the law while on duty.

What is most likely to happen though, when an officer breaks the law while on duty, is that any evidence obtained against an individual will be deemed inadmissible in court and thrown out. It is routinely the case that charges against an individual are dropped because a police officer broke the law in order to obtain evidence.

This reason alone is why it is so important to hire a good criminal defense attorney if you have been arrested or are being investigated for a crime. If police officers have broken the law in your case, your lawyers will be able to identify the infraction, and take the necessary steps to get your case dismissed.

To help you get a better idea of what some of the illegal things cops do, here are several examples of what police officers can and cannot do.

Something Police Can Do: Lie

While it might sound surprising, police officers can lie while asking questions or interrogating suspects. They do this in an attempt to get a confession and determine who is guilty of the crime in question.

There are, however, limits on what police officers can lie about. For example, they cannot lie about having a warrant and they can’t pretend to be someone like a priest in order to get a confession.

If you are a suspect in a crime, you can assume that the officers you are dealing with are lying to you and you should not answer their questions. Remain silent and wait to respond until you have your lawyer with you.

Something Police Cannot Do: Search Your Car or Home Without a Warrant or Probable Cause

One thing police cannot do is search your car or home without a warrant or probable cause. If an officer does so, everything they find will be inadmissible in court and can’t be used against you.

However, there are limits to this law too. For example, if condemning evidence (such as a gun or drugs) is in plain sight, officers can enter your home or search your car as this gives them probable cause.

Never consent to a search if police do not have a warrant and make sure to object if they do begin to search. However, it is never wise to argue with police or resist arrest. Take note of what they are doing and inform your lawyer. If the evidence was discovered during an unlawful search, your attorney will fight to make it inadmissible in court.

Something Police Can Do: Arrest You if They Have Probable Cause

If police do have probable cause that you committed a crime they do have the right to arrest you. While there is no set definition of what constitutes probable cause it can include witness testimony, physical evidence, video surveillance, and more. 

However, because probable cause is a moving target you can challenge it in your case if you believe police didn’t have probable cause at the time they arrested you.

Something Police Cannot Do: Falsely Arrest You

What police cannot do is arrest you under false pretenses. If police arrest you without probable cause they are violating your civil rights. Unfortunately, false arrests can be quite common.

If you have been the victim of a false arrest, consult a criminal defense attorney to see how you can get your charges dropped and if you should bring a suit against the officer in question.

Other Things Police Officers Cannot Do

In addition to what has already been covered, there are many other things police officers cannot do, including:

  • plant evidence
  • tamper with evidence or witnesses
  • use excessive force
  • racially profile
  • Assault suspects or civilian witnesses

These acts and others like them are examples of police misconduct. If you have been a victim of any type of police misconduct, contact a lawyer immediately and begin building your case. Not only will holding police officers accountable for their actions give you the justice you deserve, but it will also ensure others aren’t victims of police misconduct, too.

To learn more, call our Dayton criminal defense law firm at (937) 531-0435 or visit our contact us page to send us an email.