Wrongful or Unlawful Arrest Cases in Mississippi

A wrongful or unlawful arrest in the state of Mississippi is one made without a warrant, or without probable cause. A wrongful, unlawful or false arrest is a form of false imprisonment by a person or entity who claims to have authority to make such an arrest—a police officer, other law enforcement personnel, or even a private security firm. Both state and federal statutes detail what constitutes an unlawful or wrongful arrest.

Probable cause is a legal term which describes a body of facts which would lead a reasonable person to assume a crime has been committed. Federal law generally takes wrongful or unlawful arrest a step further than most state laws, as federal law considers a wrongful or unlawful arrest as a direct violation of 4th Amendment rights—which exist to protect citizens from wrongful arrest.

Requirements for Determining Whether a Wrongful or Unlawful Arrest Occurred

Because police officers can make honest mistakes regarding who they arrest, the court placed three requirements in the law for determining whether the unlawful arrest constitutes a violation of the 4th Amendment. These requirements include:

  • The officer must use force or a show of authority to restrain the person;
  • The person must believe he or she is not free to leave (i.e., must be in handcuffs, placed in a police cruiser or locked in a room), and
  • The officer must have intentionally restricted the person’s freedom of movement without probable cause.

Obviously, if the officer asks the person to come with him voluntarily, or specifically states he or she is not under arrest, it could be difficult to prove the second requirement, thus difficult to prove wrongful arrest.

The Most Common Types of Wrongful Arrests

Wrongful arrests occur most commonly when a retail store owner or employee holds a customer against their will because they have probable cause the customer committed a crime in their store. Other types of wrongful arrest include:

  • An arrest of the wrong person;
  • An arrest of a person without reading the subject the Miranda Rights;
  • An arrest without just cause;
  • An arrest of any person with no probable cause the person committed a crime;
  • An arrest without a proper warrant;
  • An arrest with a warrant obtained by giving false information to the court;
  • Any type of arrest for personal gain;
  • Any arrest based solely on race, and
  • Any arrest based on malice by the police officer. 

Mississippi Permits a Person to Resist an Unlawful Arrest

You may wonder whether you are allowed to resist arrest if you are being arrested unlawfully or wrongfully. If you are being arrested wrongfully, you can tell the officer it is wrongful; once you make that statement, the officer may ask that you present evidence the arrest is wrongful. If you are able to present such evidence, the officer is not allowed to continue with the arrest—which is not to say he or she will not continue the arrest. Further, Mississippi is one of a dozen states which still permit a person to resist an unlawful arrest (most all of these holdout states are located in the South). This begs the question as to why the right to resist arrest has survived in the South, and in Mississippi, in particular? Some believe the unique Southern concepts of honor, and the right to use deadly force for self-defense are at hand. Those who would like to take away the right to resist an unlawful arrest across the nation say it is a right which is exercised only by criminals.

As anyone who has watched the news over the past couple of decades is well aware, this is simply not a true statement. Even as far back as 1969, an article written by Paul Chevigny supported retention of the right to resist an unlawful arrest by saying, “The right does not exist to encourage citizens to resist, but rather to protect those provoked into resistance by unlawful arrests.” This information is not to encourage a person who is under an unlawful or wrongful arrest to resist that arrest, merely to note that Mississippi citizens are allowed, under the law, to do so.

Your Rights if You Have Been Wrongfully or Unlawfully Arrested

You have constitutionally protected rights if you have been wrongfully or unlawfully arrested in Southaven, Olive Branch, Horn Lake or Desoto County. While police officers are charged with enforcing and following the law, officers can go too far and violate the civil liberties of citizens. It is important you know how to protect your rights should you find yourself in a situation involving unlawful or wrongful arrest. If you have suffered a wrongful or unlawful arrest, in Desoto County, Southaven, Horn Lake, Olive Branch, Tunica, or other municipality in North Mississippi, you may be able to sue for a variety of damages—depending on the circumstances surrounding your arrest—such as:

  • Damage to your reputation;
  • Embarrassment and humiliation from being wrongfully arrested;
  • Lost wages;
  • Any physical harm which was incurred during or as a result of the wrongful arrest;
  • False imprisonment;
  • Excessive force;
  • Wrongful death;
  • Illness incurred during or as the result of a wrongful or unlawful arrest;
  • Malicious prosecution, and
  • Punitive damages

Getting the Help You Need if You are the Victim of Wrongful or Unlawful Arrest

It is important that you not simply bear the embarrassment and other consequences of an unlawful arrest, whether that arrest was by the Southaven Police Department, the Olive Branch Police Department, The Horn Lake Police Department, or the Desoto County Sheriff’s Department. You are entitled to protections under Mississippi law, federal law and the United States Constitution. The Stroud Law Firm has a long history of helping people just like you, who have had their rights violated by law enforcement. Call the Stroud Law Firm today at (662) 536-5656, and get the relief and assistance you are entitled to.