Excessive Force in South Jersey: What Is It, and What Can You Do If You Are A Victim?

Excessive force is a civil tort that seems to appear in the news with increased frequency. As stories of police misconduct and brutality emerge, it is increasingly important for South Jersey residents to know what constitutes excessive force. It is also important for citizens to know what to do if they find themselves a victim. It may feel as if the law is against you in these situations, but there are laws that can help you take action against wrongful behavior.

What Is Excessive Force?

By looking at previous local cases, we can develop an accurate picture of what the state sees as excessive force. South Jersey police officers have the right to use physical force to make arrests, protect citizens, or defend themselves. Officers can use more force when they believe the suspect is a threat, but anything beyond subduing the suspect is excessive. Any decision about excessive force is evidence-based, meaning that it’s up to the victim to prove the arresting officer was unnecessarily rough.

What Should I Do If I Feel I’m A Victim?

State law allows citizens to raise lawsuits against officers in the case of suspected excessive force. In these lawsuits, the plaintiff (you) and the defendant (the officer) will attempt to establish “preponderance of the evidence,” meaning you’ll simply need to provide stronger evidence for your case than the defense presents. It’s important to note that while an officer can still be convicted of excessive force even if you were actually committing a crime, the fact that a crime was committed can hurt your case. The jury may suspect the force was more justified.

How Do I Prove Excessive Force?

There are several steps you can take to prove an incident of excessive force in South Jersey, and you should start preparing the moment you feel victimized. During the arrest, offer as little resistance as possible so that the defense cannot use resistance as evidence that force was necessary. Stay as calm and level-headed as possible, as anger can make you appear more threatening. During the procedure, try to memorize as many details as possible, and record them as soon as you can. You also want to take pictures or videos of any bruises, cuts, or other visible injuries you sustained during the incident. You should also talk to any possible eyewitnesses to see if they’d be willing to testify on your behalf.

Perhaps most important, hiring and following the instructions of a skilled lawyer is key to your case. A lawyer can analyze your evidence, instruct you on your next move, and help represent you in court. Being a victim of excessive force or police brutality can be intimidating, but you will get justice with the law on your side.

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