Riverside Criminal Defense Attorney

  1. Home
  2.  – 
  3. Civil Rights
  4.  – What Is Considered Harassment by a Police Officer in California?

What Is Considered Harassment by a Police Officer in California?

On Behalf of | Oct 25, 2023 | Civil Rights

Being approached or getting pulled over by a police officer can be a stressful experience. You might have been following local California law but are wondering what the police want with you. While police have specific rights to question and investigate crimes, they have certain boundaries they can’t cross. Should they cross those boundaries, you may be able to exercise your rights as the victim.

Civil rights lawyers can hold police officers accountable for their actions. For example, if you believe police have harassed you due to a civil rights-related matter, a lawyer can defend you. Police can be intimidating, especially if you weren’t doing anything wrong. However, it’s crucial to understand your rights, as well as what is considered harassment.

Police Harassment

Police harassment, also known as police misconduct or abuse of authority, occurs when police have no legal basis for their actions, which include stopping an innocent person from doing something or conducting an unlawful search. Examples of harassment include:

  • Using excessive force
  • Illegal detention and searching
  • False arrest
  • Sexual harassment
  • Racial profiling
  • Making discriminating comments (homophobic, racist, etc.)
  • Surveillance abuse

In California, if any of the above actions are done by a police officer, this results in a civil rights violation. This is because one of your various rights was infringed upon, allowing you to file a claim and defend yourself.

Defenses Against Police Harassment

If an officer abuses their power and infringes on your rights, you can hold them accountable with various defenses.

In any situation, it’s highly recommended you know your rights. For example, you have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer specific questions, including immigration or citizenship status. You can also refuse to let police search your property, though they are allowed to do a pat-down if they believe you possess a weapon. Also, you are allowed to have a local phone call if arrested, and the police cannot listen in on the call. Lastly, you have the right to a lawyer, which we highly recommend you take advantage of.

Also, you may want to document the entire situation. Get the police officer’s badge number, name, patrol car number, and more. If you have this information on you, you can more easily identify the officer in question and hold them responsible.

Is Hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer Necessary?

While you are not required to hire a lawyer after an arrest, it’s essential that you do so. The legal system in California can be complicated to work through, and you may not know specific details or defenses you can use in court. For these reasons, you may want to have legal representation defend you.

Proving that a police officer performed abuse of authority can be challenging, even if you have their information. You may meet with a judge who tends to rule in favor of the police, making your situation more difficult. However, you don’t deserve to be harassed, assaulted, or insulted by police when their job is to protect our local community. If you’ve experienced police harassment, you have the right to file a complaint and hold the officer in question accountable. Having a knowledgeable lawyer by your side can increase your odds of accomplishing this.


Q: What Is Police Abuse of Authority?

A: Abuse of authority occurs when police cross specific boundaries to harass innocent people. They may use excessive force or verbal abuse to make people do something, or they may search property when they don’t have the right to. Any action police perform that violates their own set of rules is considered an abuse of authority.

Q: What Is the Most Common Complaint Against Police in California?

A: The most common complaint against police in California is excessive force. In fact, this is the most common complaint by a wide margin over cases such as domestic violence, perjury, and more. Should police need to use force to de-escalate a situation or restrain a criminal, they must not perform additional harm when they’ve been caught. Similarly, police should not be using immense violence to intimidate another person, innocent or not.

Q: What Are Police Intimidation Tactics?

A: Intimidation tactics are strategies law enforcement uses to try to make you confess to a crime. They could yell at you, throw things at you, or keep you locked in an interrogation room for as long as they want. However, it’s essential you exercise your rights if the police use intimidation tactics against you. You can remain silent, have a lawyer present during an interrogation, and more.

Q: Can Police Be Charged With Criminal Prosecution?

A: While this is rare, police can be charged with a crime depending on their level of misconduct. For example, a police officer yelling at an innocent person may not result in a crime, but they can still be held accountable. However, police who use excessive violence, plant evidence, or commit sexual assault can be charged with a crime and removed from law enforcement. If you’ve experienced any of these actions, contact a lawyer immediately.

Exum Law Offices: We Hold Police Accountable

California can be a wonderful state booming with opportunity and creativity. We rely on police officers to keep us safe and take care of bad people who are trying to harm property or other people. If the police break this trust, this creates further conflict, and you could suffer because of this. If the police are intimidating you, or if you’ve been treated unfairly by them, you should seek legal representation as soon as possible.

Our team at Exum Law Offices can gather all of the necessary information about your case and build a strong defense for you. You shouldn’t have to experience excessive violence, verbal abuse, or racial profiling in any situation involving police. Police harassment is, unfortunately, very common today, but we’re ready to make a change. We’re prepared to hold California police officers accountable, and we can help you navigate the difficult legal system to make this possible. Learn more about how we can help by contacting us today.