Police Misconduct and Civil Rights Claims in Florida

Created by FindLaw's team of attorney writers and editors.

While police officers have broad authority to carry out their duties, there are still limits to their powers. These boundaries are primarily in place to protect the civil rights of citizens. When the police exceed their authority, it's considered police misconduct and, if you're on the receiving end, you may have grounds to file a civil rights claim.

It's important to note, however, that police officers have a certain degree of immunity from lawsuits. In order to overcome this immunity, which is also referred to as "qualified immunity," a plaintiff must show that the officer acted in a willful and unreasonable manner. So, for example, a police officer will probably have immunity if a suspect is injured while resisting arrest so long as the officer used force in a proportional and reasonable manner.

What's Considered Resisting Arrest in Florida?

Before filing a civil rights claim for police misconduct in Florida, it's critical to review the circumstances surrounding the incident. For example, if the police misconduct is based on their actions during an arrest, it's important to determine if they were reacting to a suspect that was resisting an arrest.

In Florida, resisting arrest is divided into two categories: with or without violence. A person resists arrest with violence if they knowingly and willfully oppose a police officer with actual violence or threats of violence. Resisting an arrest without violence occurs if a person resists or obstructs a police officer in another way, whether it was willfully and knowingly or not.

Overview of Police Misconduct and Civil Rights Claims in Florida

In the following table, you'll find an overview of laws related to police misconduct and civil rights claims in Florida as well as links to relevant statutes. Although reading an overview is always helpful, it's important to also read the statutes for yourself and consult with an attorney if you have questions.

Statute(s)

Florida Statutes, Title XLIV, Chapter 760:

Authority of Attorney General to Protect Citizens from Civil Rights Violations

The Attorney General of Florida is authorized to bring a civil or administrative action against anyone, including those acting under color of law, if they interfere* with another person's civil rights.

*Interfering can be via threats, coercion, or intimidation and it also includes attempts to interfere as well.

Related Statute(s)

Florida Statutes, Title XLV. Torts

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Police Misconduct and Civil Rights Claims in Florida: Related Resources

If you'd like additional information and resources related to this topic, you can visit the links listed below.

Get Legal Help with Your Police Misconduct and Civil Rights Claims in Florida

If you've had an incident with the police that you feel qualified as misconduct and are wondering if you can file a civil rights claim, it's important to understand your rights and options. Get in touch with a local civil rights lawyer who can analyze your case and provide legal advice on how to proceed.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.