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Can I sue the police for violating my rights?

Can I sue the police for violating my rights?
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Reviewed: 
November 2, 2018
Answer

If the police did not respect your rights or caused you unnecessary harm, you may be able to sue

Suing the police is a way to hold the police responsible for what they did. But going to court can be expensive and take a lot of time. It's best to talk to a lawyer who practises civil litigation if you're thinking about suing the police.

Deciding which court

You may be able to sue in Small Claims Court to ask for money to make up for your injuries or damages. The most you can sue for in Small Claims Court is $25,000.

If you want to sue for more than $25,000, you must go to Superior Court. You can use the Simplified Procedure for claims between $25,000 and $100,000. It's very hard to sue for more than $100,000 without a lawyer. If you want to sue in Superior Court, you should try to get legal help.

Getting legal help

If you have a low income, you might be able to get help from Law Help Ontario. This is true whether you're planning to go to Small Claims Court or the Superior Court.

Before making a claim

For your lawsuit against the police to be successful, the police must have done something to you that is against the law. In civil court, a wrongful act is called a tort.

For example, you may be able to make a claim for:

  • wrongful arrest and detention
  • unlawful seizure of property
  • unlawful searches
  • assault and battery
  • negligent use of force 

You must be able to tell the judge how the facts of your case show that the police did something to you that is against the law.

You have to prove your case on a balance of probabilities. This means you have to show the judge that your story is more believable than what the police say happened.

After court

The police officers or police service you're suing are called defendants. If your claim is successful, the court may tell the defendants to give you money to make up for the pain or other problems caused by what happened with the police.

If your claim is not successful, you may be ordered to pay some of the defendant's legal fees.

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