How To Defend Against A Lying Police Officer

How To Defend Against A Lying Police Officer

by Jun 18, 2020

As the recent protests happening all over the country have demonstrated with remarkable (and appalling) clarity, the police cannot always be relied upon to provide an accurate version of events in their reports.

Within just the last couple of months, several police officers have been suspended, fired, and even prosecuted after lying about the circumstances of an event, only to be caught when eyewitness accounts and video evidence turn up that prove they were lying.

Sadly, this type of behavior has been common for as long as police departments have existed, and there’s not always someone with a smartphone recording what’s happening that can refute a police officer’s version of events.

If you are a defendant in a criminal case, and you believe that the police have lied about the circumstances and/or facts of your case, what can you do?

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Public Records Act

Until very recently, the only way to obtain information about a police officer’s past was through something called a Pitchess motion. A Pitchess motion allowed a defense attorney to obtain specific information contained in a law enforcement officer’s personnel file.

However, in the rare instances where the motion was granted, a defense attorney was only allowed to see the names and contact information of people who made similar allegations of misconduct against that officer.

This all changed in January 2019 with the Public Records Act (PRA). The PRA allows for the immediate disclosure of a police officer’s records if the records concern any of the following:

  • Officer discharging a firearm
  • Use of force resulting in death or great b
  • Sustained claims of sexual assault or dishonesty (i.e. perjury or filing a false report)

A defense attorney will also be able to see all the related investigative records, photos, audio, and video recordings for a given case.
 

How Does The PRA Help?

If the officer involved in your arrest has lied about the circumstances of your case, your attorney can now request that officer’s records through the Public Records Act and see if there is a history of accusations against them. If so, it will lend credence to your claim and may prove that you are innocent.

In the past, judges and juries have been very reluctant to believe the account of a defendant instead of a police officer. However, the public is now starting to see just how often the police abuse their authority and falsify their accounts of events to protect themselves from accusations of wrongdoing.

If you’ve been charged with a crime and believe that the claims against you are based on false information provided by the police, contact our office immediately for a free consultation.

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At Quinnan Law, we offer every client a free phone consultation to discuss their unique situation and determine how we can help. To arrange a consultation, please fill out the adjacent form or call us at: (707) 540-2356.

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