What Is Excessive Force? 

 June 4, 2015

By  LMW Attorneys

Excessive force is a term used to describe action taken by law enforcement officers that violates a person’s constitutional rights. There is no official definition for excessive force, but it is commonly defined as: “The use of force greater than which a reasonable and prudent law enforcement officer would use under the same circumstances,” or something to a similar extend. Learn more about excessive force and what it means within the law.

When Does Force Become Excessive?

Just as there is no official definition for excessive force, there is also no single agreed upon definition for the word “force” within the legal system. However, the International Association of Chiefs of Police has described the term as the “amount of effort required by police to compel compliance by an unwilling subject.”

In making a lawful arrest, officers have the right to use the amount of force that is reasonably necessary. In most cases, police officers are advised to use the minimum amount of force possible to safely and effectively contain a situation. However, this does not always happen.

Some instances of excessive force are viewed as police brutality. These are cases of cruel and unusual punishment, which is prohibited by the U.S. Constitution.

Excessive Force In Context

According to the National Institute of Justice, law enforcement officers should use the amount of the force necessary to “mitigate the situation, make an arrest or keep themselves and others from harm.” Of course, the amount of force deemed necessary varies by situation.

Law enforcement officers are trained to be able to gauge the severity of a situation and determine the adequate amount of force to use. As a situation becomes more threatening, an officer may have to adjust their usual protocol to maintain control and safety. The greater the perceived threat, the more force an officer will feel compelled to exert.

The Criminal Defense Attorneys You Can Trust

We rely on our state’s law enforcement officers to keep our communities safe. Sometimes however, the effort to contain a situation simply gets out of hand. If you or a loved one has experienced the use of excessive force by a law enforcement officer, call Laporte, Mulligan & Werner-Watkins to get a dedicated team of attorneys on your side. Cases regarding excessive force and alleged police brutality require extensive evidence, so it is important to begin building your case right away. Call today for a free consultation.