Frequently Asked Questions

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How to file a police complaint

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What is Police Misconduct?

Police Misconduct occurs when inappropriate actions are taken by an officer(s) in connection with their duties which violates someone's constitutional rights and/or engages in practices of discriminatory misconduct. Such misconduct can result in both the officer and the police department being subject to either civil and/or criminal penalties.

What are examples of police misconduct?

Examples of civil discriminatory misconduct include, but, are not limited to:


ØVerbal abuse/racial slurs

ØDiscriminatory traffic stops

ØUnprofessional conduct –including coercive sexual conduct

Examples of criminal police misconduct include, but, are not limited to:

ØUsing excessive force

ØMisuse of police dog, stun gun, taser

ØSexual assault

ØIntentional false arrest or fabrication of evidence

What Are Miranda Rights?

The Miranda warning/rights are part of a preventive criminal procedure that requires law enforcement to advise a suspect in custody and subject to direct questioning (or the functional equivalent) of certain constitutional rights (i.e. 5th Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination). In short, a suspect must be informed that he/she has the right to:

  • Remain silent
  • Have an attorney present during questioning
  • Have an attorney appointed if one cannot be afforded

Can I Be Arrested without Being Read My Miranda Rights?

Yes - The police are only required to read the Miranda rights when interrogating a suspect in police custody. To arrest you, the police merely need probable cause.

What should I do if I believe that my rights were violated by the police?

  • Always file a complaint first with the police department or internal affairs division.
  • You can also report the misconduct to the United States Department of Justice or the United States Attorney’s office
  • After filing a police complaint, you can pursue other remedies by filing a lawsuit in Court against the police officer(s) involved and their respective department.

*For more Frequently asked questions, answers, & Critical Resources, BECOME A MEMBER and visit the Member’s only Resource Library & PRo se litigant resource Center

How do I know if my complaint was filed ?
What if no one has contacted me about my complaint?
Will someone contact me after I file my complaint ?
What happens after I file my complaint?

When does my statute of limitations run out?

Every victim of police abuse has a limited time to file their legal claim. Don't forfeit your right to sue.

Subject: State Statutory Limits, Open Records Laws

1. State Statutes of Limitations (Find Law):

Use this to ask for records you need from the police or any public agency

2. Student Press Law Center FOIA Letter Generator. Scroll down below question# 3 to "State." Enter the state, then scroll to the bottom of the page and click "Create Letter."

The Complaint Process -“The complaint process should not discourage, dishearten, or intimidate complainants, or give them cause for fear” (Internal Affairs Guidelines, 2008, 10) “An accessible, fair, and transparent complaint process is the hallmark of police responsiveness to the community” (Protecting Civil Rights, 2006, 81).