If you’ve been through the harrowing experience of police brutality, filing a report can be the first step to ensuring justice is served. What is the deadline? It depends– the time limit can range from several weeks to several years. You need to act quickly, but don’t do it alone– trying to tackle this without the help of a New York civil rights lawyer experienced in police misconduct cases can torpedo your case before it begins.

Deadlines to report police brutality vary

There is no single clear statute of limitations for reporting police brutality. Instead, multiple factors affect your deadline to report, including:

  • Type of wrongful conduct – The wrongful behavior may be a violation of a law, of a department policy leading to an internal investigation, or be a tort for which the officer or department may be civilly liable
  • Local laws – State, federal, and municipal laws each have their deadlines and procedures that must be followed
  • Type of legal action – A police misconduct claim may take the form of a civil lawsuit, an internal investigation, or even a criminal case, with each carrying its requirements for initiation

For example, for those who experience misconduct by the New York City Police Department, filing a civil claim in the state courts– first requires the complainant to file a Notice of Claim with the City Comptroller’s Office no more than 90 days after the incident. The lawsuit itself must then be filed within one year and 90 days. However, to file a federal lawsuit, a Notice of Claim is not required, and the lawsuit can be filed up to three years after the date of the incident.

Failing to meet the filing deadlines and requirements is a serious problem. Once a deadline runs, you lose your right to bring a complaint or to receive just compensation. Always consult with an attorney to understand these rights.

Waiting to file a complaint

It is important to act quickly after being victimized by those sworn to protect and serve. Immediately, speak with an attorney, and write down every detail of the event. However, your attorney may advise that you wait before filing a complaint.

If you are a party in a pending criminal or civil case, filing a complaint before it has resolved may provide the police with information that they can use against you and potentially even lead to waiving certain rights such as the right to remain silent. However, waiting until your case has resolved may lead to missing important filing deadlines. A skilled attorney will walk through the particulars to provide a personal recommendation based on your needs.

How to file a police misconduct complaint

Each location has its own rules for reporting police brutality or other misconduct. As mentioned, the type of claim or claims you decide to file will also impact where, when, and how to file it. It may involve filing a notice with the local government agency, filing a report to the police department to initiate an internal affairs investigation or criminal charges, or even filing a complaint with the court that has jurisdiction over your claims. In any case, commit the details to paper early on, but do not file a report without first seeking legal advice.

It is crucial to understand very early on what deadlines may apply to your case and to develop an educated strategy so that you do not harm your case while pursuing a misconduct claim. Your police brutality lawyer can help you determine the wisest course of action given your situation and goals.

Speak with our team of experienced police brutality lawyers

Society is better off when victims of police misconduct speak out. If you have experienced brutality or misconduct at the hands of the police, speak with an NYC civil rights lawyer at Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green to determine your rights and options under the circumstances. Take the necessary steps to protect your rights. Call us today to discuss your case. All consultations are free and confidential.