When is an Arrest “FALSE”?
The most common mistake made by clients who have been arrested when they have, in fact, done nothing wrong, is to assume that if the case is dismissed by a judge at some point, then that is enough to give them grounds for a “false arrest” lawsuit. This, unfortunately, is not necessarily true.
The reason is quite simple: The evidence legally required to make a police officer’s arrest “legal”, and therefore not “false”, is less than the evidence necessary to convict a person of a crime in court.
The legal standard to judge the legality of an arrest is whether the officer had “probable cause” to believe a crime was committed. The legal standard to generate a conviction is whether, taking all the evidence presented, there is a conclusion “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the person arrested committed the crime. “Reasonable Doubt” requires a much higher level of proof than does “Probable Cause”. Therefore, while the prosecutor may not be able to meet the higher standard of “Beyond Reasonable Doubt” in court, the police officer may have met the lower standard of “Probable Cause” in making the arrest. If the lower standard was met by the police officer in making the arrest, then there is no “FALSE” arrest.
It is of the utmost importance that you do not try to decide for yourself whether “probable cause” existed in deciding whether there was a “FALSE” arrest. Seek the assistance of a competent attorney well versed in matters involving “Police Misconduct” and discuss the matter fully with that attorney.