Police Misconduct Laws and Claims in New Jersey

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

During police and civilian encounters, it's important for everyone to behave in such a way to avoid problems. For instance, when a person is being arrested by a law enforcement officer, they can be charged with resisting arrest if they act in any way to disrupt the arrest. Also, if an officer doesn't follow the appropriate procedures while making the arrest, it could be considered a case of police misconduct.

All New Jersey police agencies are required to respect the rights of every individual in the community. When the police engage in misconduct that rises to the level of violating a citizen's rights, then that person may be able to seek relief in the form of civil litigation. However, before filing a police misconduct claim, it's important to keep in mind that there's a body of law that can immunize police officers (and the governmental agencies that employ them) from many types of claims and suits.

Standard of Proof

To overcome the immunity protections for law enforcement, victims must show that the police acted willfully in an unreasonable manner, not just that they acted negligently. If the municipality, county, or state is a part of the claim, you must prove their liability by showing a pattern of inappropriate behavior. For instance, the department has a history of displaying an indifference to the use of force or it was negligent in training the officers.

Police Misconduct Laws and Claims in New Jersey at a Glance

While this article primarily discusses civil liability, police misconduct can also be penalized criminally. The chart below is designed to help save you time in your legal research by breaking down complex legal statutes into a plain language guide for understanding police misconduct laws and claims.

Statutes

New Jersey Statutes Title 59. Claims Against Public Entities:

New Jersey Statutes Title 2C: The New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice 2C:

Types of Police Misconduct

 

 

There are several types of police misconduct, including:

  • Abuse of process;
  • Excessive force;
  • Failure to intervene;
  • False arrest;
  • Falsifying evidence;
  • False imprisonment;
  • Malicious prosecution; and
  • Sexual misconduct.

Time Limits

You have 90 days (beginning on the date when the misconduct occurred) to assert a police misconduct claim under the New Jersey Tort Claim Act.

This is completed by serving a Notice of Claim that informs the officer and the municipality of your intention to file a claim.

Criminal Charges

Police officers can be found to have committed "official misconduct" if they:

  • Have the purpose to obtain a benefit for them or another person or to injure/deprive another person; and either
  • Knowingly commit an act relating to their position but constituting an authorized exercise of their official function, or knowingly refraining from performing a duty which is imposed on them by law.

This is a crime in the second degree unless the value of the benefit is $200 or less, than the crime is in the third degree.

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 New Jersey: Related Resources

Discuss Your Police Misconduct Claim with an Experienced Attorney

When a police officer crosses the line and commits misconduct, it's a very serious offense. Because police misconduct cases are challenging, you should act in your best interests by talking to an experienced legal professional if you believe that you've been mistreated by law enforcement. Contact a local New Jersey attorney right away for more information on asserting your rights.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.