Police Misconduct Claims in Virginia

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

Police officers in Virginia have the responsibility to ensure the safety of citizens. While most cops perform their duties without incident, some officers cross the line and use excessive force to apprehend individuals. This type of police misconduct -police brutality-seems to attract the most attention and media coverage, likely due to the serious injury or death that can result.

However, police misconduct is a broad category that includes several types of misdeeds by law enforcement officers, including false arrest and imprisonment, evidence tampering, sexual misconduct, discrimination, and harassment, among others. When police misconduct occurs, the victims of such abuse may be entitled to receive compensation for the violation of their constitutional rights. This can be pursued by filing a police misconduct claim.

Qualified Immunity

Unfortunately, for the victims, officers may escape liability for police misconduct because of the doctrine of "qualified immunity." This refers to the protection that police officers and law enforcement agencies receive which prevents many claims from being leveled against them in court. It's based on the notion that the officers should be able to do their job without the threat of litigation looming with every contact that they make with the public.

If the police officer's conduct doesn't violate "clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known", then they enjoy qualified immunity. This high burden makes it more difficult for plaintiffs seeking civil recovery against police officers.

Police Misconduct Claims in Virginia at a Glance

Although it's a good idea to refer to the relevant statutes when performing legal research, it can be frustrating getting through the legal jargon. Read the chart below for a breakdown of police misconduct laws and claims in Virginia, written in plain English.

Statutes

Virginia Code Title 8.01 Civil Remedies and Procedure:

Virginia Code Title 9.1 Commonwealth Public Safety:

Recoverable Damages

 

 

Possible recoverable damages include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages and earnings
  • Emotional distress
  • Public humiliation

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations for personal injury claims is 2 years. For police misconduct claims in Virginia, it begins running on the date that the incident of misconduct occurred.

Related Statute

Virginia Code Title 18.2 Section 18.2-479.1 (fleeing from 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 Claims in Virginia: Related Resources

Contact an Attorney About Police Misconduct Claims in Virginia

Officers who commit police misconduct can be held accountable for their actions. If you or someone you know has suffered mistreatment by the police, then it's critical to talk to a lawyer about the possibility of filing a police misconduct claim. Find out your options by contacting a Virginia attorney located near you right away.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.