Are you a legal professional? Visit our professional site

Police Misconduct Laws and Claims in Georgia

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

Like all police officers, the law enforcement agents in Georgia take an oath to protect the public and to ensure that citizens abide by the law. However, police officers can abuse their power and commit acts outside of their authority. Sometimes, this is reflected by instances of police brutality and other forms of police misconduct. When an officer's misdeeds infringe on someone's civil rights and causes them substantial harm, they (and those close to them) may be entitled to receive financial compensation through a police misconduct claim.

Qualified Immunity

In civil lawsuits that involve police misconduct, the victim may sue the municipality that employs the officer and the officer individually. Police officers are entitled to "qualified immunity," which means that a civil lawsuit against them can be thrown out of court unless the victim can prove that their constitutional rights have been violated. The rationale for this is to allow officers to perform their duties without the continuous threat of litigation based on every encounter that they make with the community. Although qualified immunity can make it more challenging to litigate, individuals can still recover damages if they can overcome this burden.

Anti Litem Notices

Anti litem notices are required by state law and must be sent to municipalities before the governmental entity can be sued. They vary, depending on whether you're suing a city, county, or the state of Georgia. The law states that anyone with a claim for money damages (based on personal injury or property damage) against a city must give notice to the city within 6 months of the event that caused the injury, before they can file a lawsuit.

According to a Georgia Supreme Court decision, however, the notice law applies to claims where the cause of action is negligence, which isn't generally applicable to most police misconduct cases. Because notice requirements vary and they can affect filing the lawsuit, it's important to check with a local attorney to see how the law applies.

Police Misconduct Laws and Claims in Georgia at a Glance

While it might be practical to refer to the written law when conducting legal research, it's easy to get lost in the legal jargon. Read the chart below for a plain language discussion of police misconduct laws and claims in Georgia.

Statutes

Georgia Code Title 36. Local Government:

  • Section 36-11-1 (time limits for claims against counties)
  • Section 36-33-5 (lawsuit notice requirements)

Examples of Police Misconduct

Police misconduct can happen at any point whenever there is an encounter between an officer and a citizen. However, there are common situations where it may occur:

  • After a police chase;
  • During routine traffic stops or arrests;
  • As the result of racial profiling; and
  • During detentions in jails or prisons.

There are several types of police misconduct, including the following:

  • Excessive force
  • False arrest
  • False imprisonment
  • Evidence tampering
  • Assault and battery
  • Sexual misconduct
  • Malicious prosecution
  • Abuse of process
  • Assault and battery

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations in Georgia for personal injury claims is 2 years. It begins running when the incident that caused the injury occurs.

Related Statute(s)

Georgia Code Section 16-10-24 (obstruction of a law enforcement officer)

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 Laws and Claims in Georgia: Related Resources

Talk to an Attorney About Police Misconduct Laws and Claims in Georgia

No one should be abused by the police. If you've been a victim of police misconduct, then you should assert your rights and talk to a lawyer. Contact a local Georgia civil rights attorney who can advocate on your behalf and investigate the possibility of filing a civil lawsuit.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.