A person is considered “detained” when they come in contact with a police officer but are not free to leave. For example, if a police officer stops an individual on the street because his/her clothing matches the description of a suspect who just committed a robbery nearby, an officer can stop the individual for questioning. This means he/she has reason to believe the individual engaged in a crime (i.e. reasonable suspicion).
While the officer questions the individual or has them sit and wait while they conduct a background check, they are considered “detained” even though they may not be cuffed. An individual would also be considered as being “detained” if an officer stopped them for speeding or another type of traffic infraction and needed to run their license plate.
The most obvious type of detention, however, is an arrest. When an individual is arrested, it means an officer believes they committed a crime or that they have evidence that indicates a criminal offense was committed. Before an officer can arrest an individual, they must have probable cause to do so.
When does a detention become unlawful?
When an officer stops an individual without reasonable suspicion, meaning they don’t have a valid reason for making contact, and doesn’t allow the individual to leave, this could be an example of an unlawful detention. An example could be an officer who stops an individual and doesn’t allow them to walk away simply because he/she is interested in knowing what the individual is doing or where they are going.
Another example of unlawful detention is when an officer makes an arrest without having probable cause. The fact is, police officers need a reason to arrest an individual as they cannot place them in cuffs because of their race or socioeconomic status. Officers who arrest an individual without first establishing probable cause can be accused of unlawfully detaining someone.
How to Handle an Unlawful Detention
If an officer is adamant about making an arrest, they are going to find a way to do it, even if they don’t have probable cause to do so. In a situation like this, it is best for an individual to refrain from resisting or fighting back as this will only make the situation worse.
What an individual can do, however, is once they are free from police custody, they can contact a Colorado police brutality lawyer. An attorney will be able to help them understand their rights and whether the incident permits them to sue for compensation. If an individual was injured by an officer who unlawfully detained them, they are highly encouraged to reach out to Bryan & Terrill Law, PLLC.
Bryan & Terrill Law, PLLC is a police brutality law firm in Colorado that provides legal services to those who were physically and/or psychologically harmed by a law enforcement officer.
Bryan & Terrill Law, PLLC can be reached at:
333 W. Hampden Avenue, #420B
Englewood, CO 80110