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How Can New York Law Enforcement Officers Defend Against Disciplinary Charges?

 Posted on December 31, 2022 in Civil Service Employment and Job Defense

new york civil service employee discipline defense lawyerIn New York, certain types of civil service employees have protections that ensure that they cannot be removed from their jobs unless there is a valid reason for doing so, including misconduct or incompetence. These protections apply for employees who are "tenured" after they have worked in a qualifying position for the required number of years. Some law enforcement officers may qualify as tenured civil service employees, and in cases where officers have been accused of misconduct or may otherwise face disciplinary action, they will need to understand how they can protect their rights and avoid consequences that may affect their careers.

Disciplinary Issues for Law Enforcement Officers

Law enforcement officers may be considered tenured civil service employees if they have completed the required probationary period as specified by their employer/agency.. These officers may face discipline if they are accused of misconduct. Potential reasons for disciplinary action may include:

  • Criminal conduct - This may include any conduct that is prohibited by state or federal laws. Felony convictions of tenured Civil Servants will result in automatic termination by operation of law without a due process hearing. Convictions for certain types of misdemeanors, including theft, assault, or other offenses that would be considered a violation of an officer's Oath of Office or an offense of moral turpitude, may also result in termination. Other minor misdemeanors may result in a period of suspension without pay.

  • Excessive force - Officers may face discipline if they are accused of using unreasonable force against individuals while performing their duties, including lethal force, non-deadly force that results in physical injuries, improper chokeholds, failure to intervene when other officers use unauthorized force, or failure to obtain medical assistance when necessary. Depending on the circumstances of a case, an officer may face discipline such as suspension, probation, or termination.

  • Abuse of authority - Officers may be penalized for sexual misconduct, using offensive language, or discourteousness. The penalties for these issues will generally involve a penalty of suspension, although termination may be appropriate in cases involving sexual misconduct.

  • False statements - Making false, inaccurate, or misleading statements during an investigation may warrant discipline. Inaccurate or misleading statements may result in a period of suspension, but intentionally making false statements in an official capacity will typically result in termination.

  • Domestic violence - An officer who is accused of committing acts of violence against members of their family or household may be subject to discipline. These offenses may result in a period of suspension, as well as the requirement to undergo counseling. However, repeated offenses or incidents that result in serious physical injury may result in termination.

  • Driving while intoxicated - Officers who are convicted of offenses involving drunk or intoxicated driving will generally receive some formal penalty involving suspension.    However, termination may be appropriate if an officer commits DWI while on duty, causes serious physical injury or death, leaves the scene of an accident, or has previous DWI convictions.

  • Firearm offenses - These offenses may include possession or use of unauthorized firearms or ammunition, improper discharge of firearms, or failure to safeguard firearms, and they may result in a period of suspension.

  • Drug crimes - Use of controlled substances or marijuana and excessive use of prescription drugs may warrant discipline, and termination will usually be appropriate in these situations.

Contact Our New York Police Officer Discipline Defense Attorney

Law enforcement officers who are being investigated based on accusations of misconduct have the right to be represented by an attorney, including during investigative interviews and disciplinary hearings. At The Law Firm of Gregory J. Watford, Esq., PLLC, we can help officers who are considered to be tenured civil service employees defend against disciplinary action. We will provide any mitigating evidence that is available and advocate on behalf of officers to help them avoid termination and minimize the potential penalties they may face. Contact our Brooklyn Law Enforcement Officer misconduct defense lawyer today at 646-580-6675 to discuss your case and learn more about how we can help. 


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