If someone is arrested but not prosecuted, if a criminal case is dismissed, or if there is an acquittal after trial, the arrestee or criminal defendant may be able to bring a false arrest or malicious prosecution claim. If law enforcement officers use excessive force a police brutality case may be brought. False arrest, malicious prosecution and excessive force claims can be advanced in state or federal court.
These lawsuits are brought against governmental officials or their agencies and seek compensatory (money) damages. The arrested or abused person is the plaintiff in the civil case and the government officials and their offices are defendants.
Strict statutes of limitations apply. In state causes of action, a notice of claim must be filed within 90 days of the event and a complaint must be made within a year and 90 days. Federal civil rights claims are usually brought under Title 42, Section 1983, of the United States Code and must be brought within 3 years of the event. Statues of limitations may be extended in certain circumstances, where, for example, a claimant is incarcerated and prevented from bringing a claim.