Police Misconduct Laws in New York

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

New York Law police officers must uphold federal laws and the laws of New York when they're performing their jobs. However, when an officer doesn't follow the proper protocols, acts improperly, or engages in illegal activities, then it may constitute police misconduct.

Incidents of police misconduct that involve officers who violate state and federal laws can violate the civil rights of the citizens that they're supposed to protect and serve. In cases like these, a victim can file a civil lawsuit to get relief for injuries caused by the misconduct.

Police Misconduct Laws in New York at a Glance

An attorney's insight provides the best way to understand a statute and how it might apply to you, but you can still get a handle on the law by reading a plain language overview. See the chart below for a summary of statutes related to New York's police misconduct laws, including links to important code sections.

Statutes

New York Consolidated Laws, General Municipal Law:

New York Consolidated Laws, Court of Claims- Act- CTC:

  • Section 10 (time of filing claims and notices of intention to file claims)
  • Section 11 (filing, service, and contents of claim or notice of intention)

Types of Police Misconduct

Situations Where Misconduct Can Occur:

Although police misconduct can occur anytime an officer interacts with a civilian, there are some common scenarios and circumstances where potential causes of action may arise, including but not limited to the following situations:

  • During routine traffic stops, arrests or detentions;
  • After a police pursuit;
  • During actions taken as the result of racial profiling; and
  • During one's detainment in jails, prisons, or detention facilities.

Examples of Police Misconduct:

  • False arrest;
  • Unjust imprisonment;
  • Reckless driving;
  • Excessive force;
  • Abuse of authority;
  • Sexual misconduct; or
  • Witness tampering.

Damages

A victim of police misconduct can recover damages from the municipality that employs the officer and (under certain circumstances) can also seek damages from the individual officer directly.

The damages depend on the extent of the police misconduct and the type of injuries suffered that resulted from the misconduct. The following are a classification of available damages for a victim of police misconduct:

  • Compensatory: Compensation for damaged property, loss of earnings, and loss of future earnings.
  • Aggravated: Awarded for aggravated damage that is intangible, including pain, anguish, and humiliation.
  • Exemplary: Awarded when police conduct constitutes an arbitrary or unconstitutional act.

Notice of Claim

Notice Requirement

To initiate a lawsuit against any municipality (for example, the New York City Police Department), you're required to first file a Notice of Claim document with the Controller's Office within 90 days after the claim arises. Typically, the claim arises on the date of the incident. For instance, if your claim is based on a taser injury you received from a cop, then the claim arises on the date that you had the encounter with the officer.

There are specific requirements for filing the Notice of Claim, including following instructions about notary requirements, the contents of the claim, and how the claim is served.

After the Notice of Claim is filed and alerts the municipality that a lawsuit is coming, then you must initiate proceedings for a lawsuit.

Late Notice

If you miss the 90- day deadline for filing, you may still be able to file the claim. The court has authority to allow the filing of a Notice of Claim that isn't served within 90 days. However, the court can't grant an extension that exceeds 1 year and 90 days.

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 New York: Related Resources

Talk to an Attorney About Police Misconduct Laws in New York

Whether you were injured because of an officer's reckless driving, unjustly incarcerated, or were otherwise victimized by police misconduct, you may be able to get compensation for your injury. Discuss your case with an experienced New York attorney who can help to protect your rights.

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