What Constitutes Excessive Force?

On Behalf of | Jan 9, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

Whether it’s a traffic stop or a run-in on the street, a police stop is a stressful and emotionally heightened event. If you’re unfamiliar with how to behave around the police, you may not immediately understand the commands placed on you or your rights during this event. Not all interactions with the law are equal. If you’ve been stopped for questioning or placed under arrest, you may not have many other times that this happened to judge whether a police officer used excessive force during this interaction. 

Understanding what is force

The Supreme Court upholds the power of the police to make an investigation and arrest, which may include the necessity to use physical coercion. However, the proportion of this level of force must be equivalent to the scale of the threat at hand. Escalation is measured as a response to this perceived threat. When the use of force is called into question, here is how a court will determine if that force was warranted:

  • The court uses a hypothetical reasonable officer who arriving on a scene. 
  • The presence of an immediate threat to the officer’s safety or the safety of others will be considered.
  • The conduct of the person being arrest is significant if that person resisted arrest. 
  • The hypothetical alternatives to force in this given situation are considered. 
  • One of the most important designations is whether the officer provided a warning before using force.

Upholding a person’s rights

The delineation between acceptable and excessive force is a consistently vague distinction. Due to the prevalence of force in arrests, it is often difficult to convince a court that the officer acted wrongly. 

When an officer uses excessive force, the repercussions can have a longstanding impact on a person’s health beyond an arrest’s professional and personal effects. 


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