It is unfortunately all too common for a civil rights violation to occur during or after an arrest. When this is the case, the person who has been violated has the right to sue the government for that violation. If the state is also moving forward with criminal charges, then the defendant in the criminal charges could, at the same time, be a plaintiff in the civil case.
What happens if this situation occurs and the government agrees to dismiss criminal charges if the defendant drops their lawsuit? Is this legal? Is it fair? Keep reading to get the opinion of an attorney who both defends against criminal charges and brings civil cases. Then contact our offices by reaching out to Law Offices of Patrick S. Aguirre at 800-572-1252.
There is a Power Imbalance
In most civil rights lawsuits, the government or law enforcement agency against which the suit has been filed have much more power than the plaintiff. When the government then hangs criminal charges over the head of said plaintiff, the government may use that as leverage to coerce them into dropping a reasonable suit.
This is why the U.S. Supreme Court has specific factors for the court to consider if it is considering an agreement in which charges are dropped in exchange for a civil case is dropped. The courts are required by law to consider:
- Whether or not the agreement was voluntary
- Whether or not the agreement goes against the public interest
- Whether or not there was prosecutorial misconduct in the criminal case
Proving That the Agreement Was Voluntary
In order for the agreement to be considered “voluntary,” the parties must have both entered freely into it. This focuses on the plaintiff (i.e. the criminal defendant) and considers their intelligence, experience, education, and level of sophistication. If the courts deep the person able to understand the agreement and the consequences then they are more likely to agree to the situation.
There court will also look at factors such as whether or not the plaintiff had legal counsel, if they were incarcerated at the time the offer was made, and if they were given enough time to fully weigh the pros and cons of the situation.
Do Not Agree to Anything Until You Have Talked to an Attorney
No matter where you are in the process, whether you hare just beginning to consider bringing a civil case against the government, you have already brought the case, or you are being offered a deal similar to the one described above, you need an attorney on your side. You can contact Law Offices of Patrick S. Aguirre now at 800-572-1252 to request a free legal consultation.