The problem of police corruption in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas is a very real one. Within the last few years, there have been multiple reports of Philadelphia police officers engaging in corrupt practices, such as:
- stealing drugs from drug dealers,
- stealing money from businesses, and
- lying under oath (lying on affidavits or at hearings).
These are just some of the types of corrupt behavior police officers have been accused of engaging in. Some officers have been accused of planting evidence, i.e., planting stolen drugs in the car or home of an alleged drug dealer or suspect. Other officers have been accused of assaulting and threatening individuals during investigations.
In more serious cases such as murder cases, officers have been accused of wrongfully zeroing in on a suspect and all but fabricating evidence to get a conviction. Read more about police investigation in murder cases.
Many citizens of Philadelphia who are arrested and charged with a crime often want to know whether they can make a claim that the police officer was corrupt in order to get the case dismissed. The answer depends on a key question, is there sufficient evidence that the police officer involved in the investigation, arrest, etc., was corrupt?
There are several issues which come into play when dealing with a potential case of police corruption in a criminal case in Philadelphia.
The accused individual’s criminal lawyer must conduct a thorough investigation to determine whether there is sufficient evidence of police corruption. This means assessing the evidence and looking for any eyewitnesses who might be able to corroborate the corrupt behavior. This can sometimes be very difficult, since witnesses are often afraid of retaliation for coming forward about abusive or corrupt practices by police officers. For example, a Philadelphia business owner who doesn’t speak English well or has immigration issues may be reluctant to corroborate the fact that a police officer stole money from the business. These are some of the hurdles involved in dealing with police corruption.
GETTING THE CASE DISMISSED
In some cases, the evidence will be so clear, that the District Attorney’s office may voluntarily dismiss the case. This is especially true for criminal cases investigated by police officers who have already been shown to be corrupt. Basically if a case was investigated by a known, corrupt police officer, it may be tainted. The case may ultimately be dismissed voluntarily by the DA, and if not, by a judge or court.
DEALING WITH POLICE CORRUPTION AT TRIAL – CROSS-EXAMINATION
At trial, police misconduct (corruption, lying, etc.) can be revealed via cross-examination. Successful cross-examination is an art form and requires a tremendous amount of preparation. The key is identifying a theme (i.e., police misconduct) and using cross-examination of officers to present that theme. Ultimately, revealing major inconsistencies in the testimony of each of the officers can lead to an acquittal.
CIVIL LEGAL RIGHTS
In some cases, individuals who have been the victim of police corruption have valid civil legal rights under the U.S. and Pennsylvania constitution. Police officers are prohibited from violating an individual’s constitutional rights, including the right to due process. In certain cases, courts will find that police corruption is a violation of an individual’s due process rights. Victims may be able to receive fair, reasonable financial compensation.
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PHILADELPHIA CRIMINAL LAWYER
If you were charged with a crime in the Philadelphia area and believe the officers were corrupt, please contact our office for a free consultation. Firm founder, David S. Nenner is an accomplished trial lawyer who specializes in criminal cases. (215) 515-0042
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