Friday, September 9, 2011

Complaining About Lying Police Officers

Question: Can I sue a sheriff for falsifying a DUI report? A sheriff falsified his report. He is saying that I made a statement when in fact I did not. We now have a case going to jury trial. If we win this trial, can I sue him?
Yes.  You can sue about lying if you win the criminal case.  I highly recommend that win or lose you utilize the Sheriff (or any law enforcement agency's) complaint procedure.  It may not help you, but it could help a defendant about whom they lie in the future attack the officer's credibility at trial.

There is a process called a Pitchess motion wherein in defendants about whom a cop has lied can request that the police agency turn over all other complaints that people have made about the officer lying (or falsifying reports, or excessive force, or planting evidence).  The motion states that what the officer(s) have put into their reports is false and it may suggest an alternative scenario.  The court then rules on whether there is a discrepancy.  If there is, the court then has an in camera (private) review of the officer's complaint file.  If there are any complaints they are turned over to the defense counsel who can then investigate the complaints and call the complainants as witnesses who will testify against the officer.

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