18 USC 242 | Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law

December 24, 2017

Law enforcement personnel are ordinarily charged under 18 U.S.C. 242 when committing unreasonable / excessive force upon a suspect.[1] It is a federal misdemeanor offense carrying up to one (1) year in jail. However, the charge elevates to a felony carrying up to ten (10) years in prison if the purported victim suffers bodily harm. Law enforcement personnel can be police officers, sheriff’s deputies, probation officers, and even federal agents.

The standard of “bodily harm” is relatively low. The government need only prove some bodily harm suffered. For instance, small scrape, headache, or some form of pain however short or slight. It does not require bleeding, broken bones, or any form of medical attention. Common examples include punching a handcuffed suspect; tasering a suspect who is not resistive and compliant with orders; or kicking or striking a suspect with a weapon after the suspect has been subdued.

Understandably, law enforcement undertakes the dangerous responsibility of maintaining law and order. Accordingly, the law affords an officer to use reasonable force under the circumstances when apprehending a suspect. Reasonable force is measured taking into account the totality of the circumstances and how a reasonable officer would conduct themselves.

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If you’ve been charged or under investigation for using excessive force upon a suspect, then you need an experienced and reputable Newport Beach Federal Criminal Lawyer handling your case. Not only are federal charges much different than California state charges, but crimes allegedly committed by law enforcement require an attorney who has a history of successfully defending peace officers. Contact the Law Offices of John D. Rogers today to schedule a free confidential consultation concerning your rights and defenses. Our office represents officers all throughout California who have been charged in federal court including Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties.


Legal References:

[1] Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or to different punishments, pains, or penalties, on account of such person being an alien, or by reason of his color, or race, than are prescribed for the punishment of citizens, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if bodily injury results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include the use, attempted use, or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.

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