The New York Criminal Law Blog

How to Sue the NYPD

If you've been arrested and were injured, or felt that your arrest was in some way wrongful, you may have legal recourse. In fact, the number of people who sued the New York Police Department jumped by 35% over the previous fiscal year, The Huffington Post reports.

In many cases, victims allege that their constitutional rights have been violated. At times, these violations include claims under the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause.

While police brutality cases involve lawyers and court battles, there are steps you need to take before a court will even hear your lawsuit. In New York, there are specific procedures in place for suing the NYPD.

For starters, a formal complaint must be filed with the Office of the New York City Comptroller. The form can be found here.

This Notice of Claim must be notarized and served personally or by certified mail on the Comptroller within 90 days of the offending incident.

You must send the Notice of Claim to:

The Comptroller of the City of New York
Municipal Building - Room 1225
1 Centre Street
New York, New York 10007

Once you've filed your claim, it's a waiting game. You have to wait for a response from the government before you can move forward.

Depending on the answer you receive from the government, you may or may not end up suing.

One potential problem with suing the NYPD is the legal doctrine of qualified immunity. Under this idea, a police officer is justified in making an arrest if there was probable cause to make the arrest. That means that officers generally enjoy an immunity from civil suits over actions taken on the job.

Of course, if the officer's conduct exceeded what was reasonable (if he used excessive force, for example), then the officer's immunity could come into question. In such a case, the officer and even the NYPD can potentially be held liable for damages.

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