Law enforcement officers face potentially dangerous situations every day. In this peril, officers often have to resort to use of force to defend themselves and others from suspects who could be armed. However, use of force has become the subject of particular scrutiny recently as reports of police brutality surface every day.
This closely trained eye on police has left some officers with the feeling that they can’t do their job without maintaining their personal safety. The increased presence of body cameras, cell phone recording and social media means an officer’s every move is overanalyzed. Two officers in Georgia were recently fired and now face criminal assault charges for their conduct during a traffic stop.
This case is a prime example of the consequences officers face when they are held to a higher standard in society. When job loss is met with criminal charges, the negative effects on career and personal happiness are often doubled, but that doesn’t mean they are without options when faced with administrative or criminal penalties related to assault.
Here are three defense strategies to use against assault charges:
Defense of property
When dealing with a thief or burglar, police often have to use force to prevent further property loss. Stopping a suspect from fleeing a scene with property or recovering it on the spot may be a situation in which an officer can justify the use of force.
This defense is the most common in criminal assault trials. Because police are tasked with dealing with suspects, retreating a scene is rarely an option. Therefore, a threat must often be dealt with head on. The self-defense argument may be an option when police can articulate a real or perceived fear of force or harm against them.
Defense of others
Police can be called to a scene as backup and may be forced to act with little knowledge of the situation. If a partner is spotted in a compromising position with a suspect, the arriving officer has to decide how to protect his or her fellow officer.
A criminal defense attorney that specializes in defending law enforcement officers can be integral in protecting a career and personal freedom.