Lets say that Bob has a problem with a high ranking member of the local government (Mayor, Police Chief, etc). After several protests of the local government and encounters/arrests by the Police, Bob starts to receive mysterious allegations of civil infractions and multiple tickets demanding money as retribution. Bob discovers a city ordinance "Annoyance by writing" by which the wording on the ordinance clearly falls under for these civil infractions trying to extort money from him. He goes to the Police to try and file a criminal complain but the Police refuse to file the complaint citing "government functions".

How can Bob file a criminal complaint when the Police refuse to file it?

Here is a video as a real world example of this situation; https://youtu.be/8uY8t4X_yqI?t=521

  • 1
    This really depends on the jurisdiction - England and Wales you can bring a private prosecution, which is a private lawsuit under criminal law, charging someone with the same thing that the police and the Crown Prosecution Service would charge and prosecute them with. You have to bear the brunt of that cost tho. – user4210 Mar 22 at 4:52
  • In Spain it is the same, but the perception that I have is that if the State does not press charges the private prosecution needs to be very convincing to win the case. – SJuan76 Mar 22 at 11:22
  • See this SE question and its answers for much related detail. – David Siegel Mar 23 at 19:54

According to your bio, you live within the limits of the United States, so I'll assume this is the jurisdiction that is in question.

How to file a complaint Against the Police

Police departments take complaints on an officer in three different ways:

1: you can make a complaint online through the police departments website

2: A formal complaint can be filed by mail

3: A complaint can be filed in-person at the police department, during this process they will interview you about the issue and you are advised to bring a witness with you (lawyer, friend, or family member).

Once a complaint is filed in one of these three ways, the police departments internal affairs department opens an investigation into the matter to determine disciplinary measures. These complaints will stay on the officer's record permanently. Unfortunately, you will not be able to know the outcome of the internal investigation.

Can you sue a police officer?

Not only can Bob sue the police officer individually, but he can also sue the department the police officer works for under Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871

How to sue the police for Misconduct?


In order to sue the police for discrimination or harassment, the victim must show that there is a pattern of this behavior; one incident of discriminatory or harassing conduct is not enough.

False arrest claims usually assert that the victim’s Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable seizure was violated. To prove such a violation, the victim must show that the police did not have probable cause, or sufficient evidence to warrant an arrest. If the police had probable cause, or believed that they had probable cause, then most courts will not find a Fourth Amendment violation.

A claim for excessive force maintains that the police used unreasonable force under the circumstances in dealing with the victim and typically, the victim suffers serious injury or death. There is no concrete definition of excessive force, so it is up to the victim to show that his or her particular situation did not call for the amount of force used by police.

  • 1
    As is indicated in hinshawlaw.com/newsroom-updates-319.html a local government or police dept cannot be sued under Sec 1983 unless it was a matter of "policy or custom” as defined in Monell v. New York City Dept. of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 690-91 (1978) a Supreme Court case. In most cases a known, named officer must be sued directly. – David Siegel Mar 23 at 19:51
  • The question is not filing a complaint or bringing a suit against the police. It is about filing a criminal charge when the police refuse to take the complaint. – Digital fire Mar 23 at 22:44
  • @Digitalfire, you can't file a criminal charge, nobody can, you can file a complaint with the police department, and then the DOJ will decide if they want to pursue criminal charges. – User37849012643 Mar 23 at 22:51

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.