Minnesota Police Misconduct Laws and Claims
The job of the police is to investigate crimes and arrest wrongdoers. They can lawfully use force and other tactics when conducting police business. However, they must not exceed their authority and cross the line into unacceptable behavior.
So, where is the line? What is police misconduct? How do you know when the police can be held accountable for their behavior?
Illegal Police Behaviors
Both state and federal laws address certain conduct by police officers that may be considered "actionable." If something is actionable, it means you can take legal action against someone for the act.
Federal law addresses violations of civil rights. Under federal law, a law enforcement officer may be charged with misconduct for:
- Using excessive force
- Sexual assault
- Intentional false arrests
- Intentional fabrication of evidence
Minnesota Law on Police Misconduct
Minnesota also has its own statutes covering misconduct. These laws are broader than the federal regulations, so they make more actions illegal.
In Minnesota, misconduct can also occur when an officer:
- Fails or refuses to perform mandatory duties
- Exceeds their lawful authority
Criminal charges may apply to police misconduct. You may also be able to file a civil lawsuit to recover damages for injuries to yourself or your property.
At a Glance: Minnesota Police Misconduct Laws
Statutes and laws can be challenging to read and understand. Below is a chart of Minnesota and federal laws that relate to police misconduct to help you sort through the legalese.
State and Federal Police Misconduct Statutes
Federal Law, Title 18, U.S. Code:
Types of Police Misconduct
Situations Where Misconduct Can Occur:
Anytime there is an interaction between an officer and a member of the public, police misconduct can occur. The most common interactions occur during:
Examples of Police Misconduct:
What to Do If You Suspect Police Misconduct
If you suspect police misconduct, you will need detailed information to prepare a formal complaint or file a civil lawsuit. This detailed information can include:
You can file a police misconduct complaint with the police department of the officer responsible. There may also be independent city or state agencies that handle such complaints. An attorney, or the police department where the officer works will be able to tell you where to file such a complaint.
Police misconduct complaints sometimes are time-sensitive. You should file your complaint as soon as possible.
Note: If you believe you are a victim of police misconduct and you have charges pending, contact an attorney before filing a complaint with a city Police Department. You may waive certain rights by filing a police misconduct complaint.
Criminal Penalties / Damages for Police Misconduct Complaints
Minnesota Criminal Penalties
Minnesota has limited criminal penalties for officers who have been found guilty of police misconduct. An officer who has violated other criminal statutes, for instance, murder or assault, would face additional criminal penalties.
Falsely Reporting Police Misconduct
Minnesota has a specific statute to make it a crime to falsely report police misconduct.
Federal Criminal Penalties
Violations of federal laws for police misconduct are punishable by fines and/or imprisonment. Only the Department of Justice may file charges for violations of police misconduct, but you can contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate police misconduct.
Minnesota Civil Remedies
Civil suits can be filed for specific wrongdoing of the police officer such as false arrest, assault, and battery.
Federal Civil Remedies
Under 42 USC Sec. 1983, you can file a civil suit to recover damages for the deprivation of rights, privileges, or immunities.
Statute of Limitations
Filing Criminal Charges
Civil Lawsuit Statute of Limitations
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 in Minnesota: Related Resources
Talk to an Attorney About Police Misconduct Laws in Minnesota
If you believe you have been a victim of police misconduct, seek out the help of a Minnesota civil rights attorney near you. They will be able to review your case and let you know what rights and remedies may be available to you.
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
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