In the latest controversy involving San Diego rapper Tiny Doo, the 35-year-old rapper and student Aaron Harvey, 28, who both spent about seven months in jail under California’s criminal gang conspiracy law, filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit against the San Diego Police Department (SDPD) and two gang detectives. Tiny Doo and Harvey were arrested back in 2015 under California Penal Code 182 and 182.5, the Gang Conspiracy statute. A judge dismissed their case in 2015, and they were released from jail.
According to the San Diego Union Tribune, the lawsuit ” slams police for arresting the two men under the law, Penal Code 182.5, which was being used for the first time in San Diego and possibly in California.” The law says that gang members with general knowledge of a gang’s criminal activities can be prosecuted for crimes others commit as long as they willfully benefited from or assisted the crime in some way. It also toughened penalties for youth offenders.
Tiny Doo and Harvey were amongst 15 alleged gang members arrested in connection with nine shootings in 2013 and 2014. However, there was no evidence that either man committed the actual shootings. Rather, prosecutors used their rap lyrics as evidence that they promoted gang violence. Tiny Doo and Harvey both claim that the First Amendment covered their lyrics and social media postings. They have also alleged unlawful search and seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
False arrest is also known as “unlawful arrest.” In other words, it is an arrest that occurs without probable cause, and is therefore in violation of the Fourth Amendment guarantee against unlawful search and seizure. Probable cause exists if there is sufficient reason to believe that a crime has been committed. A lack of probable cause will render a warrantless arrest invalid and a constitutional violation.
False arrests might give you a federal 1983 (42 U.S.C. § 1983) claim. Section 1983 of the U.S. Code enables you to file a civil action for being deprived of your constitutional rights. If you succeed in your claim, you will get statutory damages.
False arrest claims can also lead to state tort law claims. A “tort” is a civil wrong, and it gives the injured party the right to sue the person who caused the harm. Victims of torts can sue for damages to compensate for economic damages (ie. loss of employment), pain, suffering, and humiliation. Tort claims against government entities in California like a police department are subject to filing deadlines set forth in California Government Code § 911.2. Under § 911.2, if you are suing the government for monetary damages for a tort, you must file the claim within six months of the “accrual of cause of action.” Continue reading