It doesn’t happen often, but it happens more than it should – a wrongful arrest due to mistakes made during a police report. When it happened to Florida man, Adam Thornton, it changed his life completely.
According to an article in Bradenton, Adam Thornton called 911 early on the morning of March 9 after he witnessed a possible drunk driver speeding and running red lights. A few months later, Thornton witnessed a car accident and called 911 again. When he gave his witness statement, he was arrested on a warrant issued for a driving under the influence charge after the case in March in which he was only a witness.
It turns out the drunk driver in the March case was also named Adam. Adam Williams was the name they were looking for, but due to a mix up in names on the police report, witness Adam Thornton was the one arrested.
What is a wrongful arrest?
An arrest is considered wrongful when a person is detained and wrongfully convicted by police without proper legal authority.
Instances of wrongful arrests include:
- Arrest of the wrong person
- Arrest of a person without probable cause that that person committed a crime
- Arrest without the mention of the suspect’s Miranda Rights
- Arrest without just cause
- Arrest with an arrest warrant that was obtained with false information given to the court by a police officer
- Arrest by incompetence
- Arrest for personal gain
- Arrest based on race
- Arrest based on pure malice
What can you do after a wrongful arrest?
If you’ve been wrongfully arrested, you’re likely able to file a lawsuit against the arresting officer, the police department, and the township for damages like bail, missed work, and even mental distress or embarrassment.
If a person is wrongfully arrested there are many things that can be brought up in a lawsuit. These include:
- Lost wages
- Damage to reputation
- Physical harm incurred during or as a result of the wrongful arrest
- Illness incurred during or as a result of the wrongful arrest
- Wrongful death
- Punitive damages
- False imprisonment
- Excessive force
- Malicious prosecution
- Wrongful conviction
It’s important to note that if you are wrongfully arrested, but plead guilty in court, even if it’s later found to be a wrongful arrest, you will have forfeited your ability to sue. Wrongful arrests happen and it’s unexpected and hard to control in the moment, unless the person under arrest has evidence available to prove themselves innocent. If you or a loved one have been wrongfully arrested, considered hiring a qualified criminal defense attorney that can help you fix the mistake and clear your name.
Leon, J. D. (n.d.). Twice he tried to help the cops as a witness. Their mistakes landed him in jail. Retrieved from https://www.bradenton.com/news/local/crime/article219546205.html
Chowdri, P. (2015, April 24). What is False Arrest? Retrieved from https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/what-false-arrest.html