Police Misconduct Claims in Michigan

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

The failure to comply with an order from the police can result in resisting arrest charges and generally isn't a good idea. Police officers, by law, can restrain and subdue a person resisting arrest. However, there are situations where police act beyond the scope of their authority, such using excessive force or harassing civilians without cause. Although it's not always easy to define, police misconduct is illegal under federal civil rights law and may result in civil charges as well.

Police misconduct can include the use of excessive force, making an unlawful arrest, wrongfully imprisoning an individual, racial profiling, or performing an unlawful search and seizure (which violates the Fourth Amendment). Police have a certain amount of "qualified immunity," as long as their actions don't violate specific individual rights, which raises the bar for plaintiffs wishing to file police misconduct claims.

The following sections will help you understand what constitutes police misconduct in Michigan and how claims are filed.

Michigan Police Misconduct Claims at a Glance

It's important to know what your rights are in the event the police exceed their authority, but it's not always easy understanding statutory language. That's why we've provided the following "legalese-free" summary of how police misconduct claims are handled in Michigan.

Statutes

Michigan Compiled Laws:

Federal Laws:

When a Law-Enforcement Officer May Make an Arrest

A peace officer, without a warrant, may arrest a person in any of the following situations (see the statute for a complete list):

  • A felony, misdemeanor, or ordinance violation is committed in the peace officer's presence.
  • The person has committed a felony although not in the peace officer's presence.
  • A felony in fact has been committed and the peace officer has reasonable cause to believe the person committed it.
  • The officer has reasonable cause to believe a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for more than 92 days or a felony has been committed and reasonable cause to believe the person committed it.
  • The officer has received positive information that another officer or a court holds a warrant for the person's arrest.
  • The officer has reasonable cause to believe the person is an escaped convict or has violated a condition of parole from a prison.
  • The officer has reasonable cause to believe the person was, at the time of an accident in this state, the operator of a vehicle involved in the accident and was operating the vehicle while impaired.

When a Law-Enforcement Officer May Use Force

Deadly Force:

An officer may use deadly force when they reasonably perceive there is an imminent threat of likely death to the officer or another citizen.

Other than Deadly Force:

Any use of force by peace officers must be “objectively reasonable” in context of the facts and circumstances confronting them, without regard to their underlying intent or motivation.

Interference with Civil Rights

Federal code states that "Whoever, under color of any law, …willfully subjects any person…to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States [shall be guilty of a crime]."

Such deprivation of rights may include (but isn't limited to):

  • Physical assault;
  • Sexual misconduct;
  • Deliberate indifference to a serious medical condition or substantial risk of harm; or
  • A failure to intervene.

The federal Department of Justice (DOJ) investigates police misconduct claims and must prove the following elements in order to get a conviction:

  1. Defendant deprived a victim of a right protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States;
  2. Defendant acted willfully; and
  3. Defendant was acting under color of law.

To file a complaint alleging criminal violations by a peace officer, contact your local FBI office and send a written complaint to:

Criminal Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., PHB
Washington, D.C. 20530

Civil Claims for Police Misconduct

To file a complaint alleging police misconduct, you may contact the corresponding law enforcement agency or the county prosecuting attorney with jurisdiction over the agency.

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.

Research the Law

  • Michigan Law - Information about Michigan statutes, including those pertaining to criminal, family, employment, and injury law.
  • Official State Codes - Links to the official online statutes (laws) in all 50 states and DC.

Police Misconduct Claims in Michigan: Related Resources

Need to File a Police Misconduct Claim in Michigan? Get Legal Help Now

If your civil rights have been violated by a police officer exceeding their authority, then you may want to file a police misconduct claim. These are complicated, though, and you'll likely need professional legal help. Get started today by contacting an experienced Michigan personal injury attorney near you.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.