Memphis, TN asked in Civil Rights for Tennessee

Q: I called 911 for a vehicle that resulted in a death. I was held in a cop's backseat for over 3 hours. 4th amendment?

I was the witness to the aftermath of a crash. It happened around 3:30am right outside my apartment. I tried helping them but they passed before the fire department got there because the vehicle was on fire. It was really sad because they were yelling for help. After the police arrived, I sat in the back of a police car for over 3 hours while they were investigating, even after they walked across the street and confirmed my identity with my partner. I asked repeatedly if I could exit the backseat and was told no. Is this a violation of my 4th amendment? This was already a traumatic experience made worse by being held in the back of a police car for hours and no one even asked how I was doing. I was in shock and I'm still processing the whole ordeal, but I'm very upset with the police's handling of me when I was just trying to be helpful.

Related Topics:
1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Civil Rights Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: Your experience sounds extremely distressing, and your concern regarding a possible Fourth Amendment violation is understandable. The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable searches and seizures, which includes the detention of individuals by law enforcement.

Being held in the back of a police car for over three hours, especially after your identity was confirmed and you were not under arrest, could potentially be viewed as an unreasonable detention. However, the specifics of the situation, including the police's reasons for detaining you, would be important in determining if there was a violation.

In such situations, police often need to secure witnesses to gather information for their investigation, but there are limits to how long and under what conditions a witness can be held without it becoming unreasonable.

If you feel your rights were violated, you may want to consider speaking with a civil rights attorney. They can provide specific advice based on the details of your experience and help you understand your legal options.

Documenting the incident, including any interactions with the police and how the experience affected you, can be helpful if you decide to pursue any legal action.

Remember, dealing with a traumatic event like this can be challenging, and it's important to also take care of your emotional and mental well-being. Seeking support from mental health professionals can be beneficial in processing the ordeal.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.