Suppose that someone is a victim of police misconduct and the officer who was on duty at the time is eventually found guilty of police misconduct. Usually the victim walks out with award money (lawsuit or from suing an officer). Let's say the crime the officer committed was a felony or the victim isn't satisfied with the amount of money offered to them. Can they request that the alleged officer receive a (hefty) prison sentence rather than being awarded money of some kind? (Referring to U.S.)

2 Answers 2


There is no crime of "police misconduct" in the US, but murder or theft are certainly crimes which would qualify as "police misconduct". To take a real case, an officer in Georgia was convicted of aggravated assault, violating oath of office, and making a false statement (not murder, though he did kill the victim). In principle, he would also be liable in a lawsuit by the victim's family. However, these would be separate legal processes, the criminal prosecution being conducted by and at the discretion of the government prosecutor, and the monetary lawsuit being conducted by and at the discretion of the victim's family (on behalf of the victim).

It is possible that an officer will be convicted yet not found civilly liable, or vice versa; or both, or neither. The victim (or family) doesn't necessarily have any connection to the criminal case, although they typically can testify during the sentencing phase. In some jurisdictions (e.g. California), the victim has a right to testify at a sentencing hearing.

The result of a lawsuit can never be imprisonment – that has to come from criminal prosecution, and criminal prosecution does not result in a monetary reward to the victim (any criminal fine goes to the government).


For a police officer, there's a usually a difference between "misconduct" and "committing a crime", and another difference between "committing a crime" and "committing a crime that gets you sent to jail".

If the misconduct was actually such that it was a crime that would be punished by jail time, and if there was good evidence for it, then I would assume that the police would investigate it and eventually arrest this officer, take him to court, convict him, and send him to jail.

Whether the victim is satisfied with the money they received doesn't really matter. And nobody will send the police officer to jail because the victim demands it - the police officer will go to jail if a prosecutor thinks he should, and a judge or jury agrees. Independent of whether the victim demands it or not.

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