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6 Defenses to Police Misconduct Charges in New Jersey

July 7, 2021 | Posted In Administrative Law, Criminal Law

If you have been charged with police misconduct in New Jersey, you have a lot on the line. Your freedom, reputation in your community, your career with the department and your finances could all be in jeopardy. With this in mind, you need to defend yourself by all means available, and this starts with hiring a New Jersey police misconduct lawyer to determine what defenses he or she can use on your behalf.

What are Your Options for Fighting a Police Misconduct Charge in New Jersey?

While facing allegations of police misconduct in New Jersey is a very serious matter, there are several potential defenses in these cases. Some examples of defenses our New Jersey police misconduct lawyers may be able to use on your behalf include:

1. Reasonableness

In cases involving allegations of excessive force, it is possible to successfully defend against police misconduct charges by demonstrating that the use of force was reasonable in light of the circumstances at hand. This defense can be tricky, but it can provide complete protection against criminal responsibility in relevant cases.

When accused of using excessive force, it is up to the officer to prove that their use of force was reasonable. Relevant factors include the officer’s reading of the circumstances as they were unfolding, subjective intent at the time of the arrest or altercation, and the amount and nature of force used. As a result, if you believed that you were acting within the confines of your authority as a police officer, your defense lawyer may be able to use this to establish a reasonableness defense that protects you from a conviction.

2. Fourth Amendment Violations

As a suspect or criminal defendant, you have the same legal rights as any other citizen. This means that you are entitled to the full protections afforded by the Fourth Amendment. If the officers or agents tasked with investigating your case violated your Fourth Amendment rights, then the prosecution’s evidence against you may be inadmissible in court. This could be the case if the (i) officers or agents conducted a warrantless search without justification and without your consent, or (ii) officers or agents exceeded the scope of the warrant that was issued.

3. Fifth Amendment Violations

A violation of your Fifth Amendment rights can also serve as a defense in your police misconduct case. While it may be difficult to claim that you did not knowingly waive your right to remain silent as a police officer, due process violations can also provide Fifth Amendment defenses in some cases. As your case progresses, your New Jersey police misconduct lawyer will need to evaluate the circumstances surrounding your prosecution to determine if you have grounds to assert a due process defense.  

4. Sixth Amendment Violations

The protections afforded by the Sixth Amendment include the right to counsel and the right to a fair, speedy and public trial. This includes the right to trial by an unbiased jury. If the jurors selected for your case have been unduly influenced by media coverage, or if they have a prejudicial bias against the police in general, then this could potentially provide grounds for seeking a mistrial or a reversal on appeal.

5. Evidence of Innocence

Of course, you can also defend against your police misconduct charges by presenting evidence of your innocence. If you can demonstrate that you acted in compliance with your department’s policies, applicable laws or that you have been falsely accused, these can all potentially serve as grounds to have your charges dismissed prior to or during trial.  

6. Lack of Proof

Finally, as with all criminal cases, the prosecution has the burden of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Thus, while proving your innocence is an option, it is not necessary to avoid a conviction. If your New Jersey police misconduct defense lawyer can convince the judge or jury that the prosecution’s case is deficient in any respect, then you are entitled to a “not guilty” verdict regardless of the facts at hand.

Many criminal cases hinge on the strength of the prosecution’s case. While you may want to prove your innocence, you ultimately need to focus on the case strategy that makes the most sense in light of the circumstances at hand. When working with a defense lawyer, you will want to evaluate all potential defenses carefully, and you will want to formulate a strategy that is focused on securing a positive result as efficiently as possible.

What About Qualified Immunity?

As a police officer, you may be familiar with the doctrine of qualified immunity. However, while qualified immunity can serve as a defense in civil police misconduct lawsuits, it is not a defense that state police officers can assert in most criminal cases.

With that said, demonstrating that you acted within the scope of your official duties can still serve as a defense in some circumstances. But, again, the defenses available to officers in police misconduct cases depend heavily on the facts involved. Therefore, you will need to carefully review the facts of your case with your defense lawyer to determine what defenses you have available.

As with any type of criminal charge, defending against allegations of police misconduct requires a timely and strategic approach based upon a thorough understanding of the relevant legal and constitutional principles. If you have been accused of police misconduct, you need to do everything you can to protect yourself, and you should hire a New Jersey police misconduct lawyer to get to work on your case right away.

Talk to a New Jersey Police Misconduct Lawyer at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A.

At Helmer, Conley & Kassleman, P.A., we bring centuries of relevant experience to defending police officers who are accused of misconduct in their official capacities. If you need to speak with a New Jersey police misconduct lawyer, you can call 877-435-6371 or contact us online to arrange a confidential consultation.


Over 20 attorneys at HCK have extensive experience in defending criminal cases as they were former assistant prosecutors and/or police officers for a combined total of over 600 years of law enforcement experience. You can find out more about them on our site, and you can call Managing Partner Ron Helmer on his cell phone at 609 685-0665.

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