ID: “There is no constitutional right not to be mistaken for a criminal. ‘The Constitution does not guarantee that only the guilty will be arrested.'”

By John Wesley Hall
Law Offices of John Wesley Hall
Mar 28, 2016

Plaintiff was a sublessee of a dental office laboratory but was seen breaking in through a window by a neighbor who called 911. Police arrived and the reporter said the woman appeared drunk or on drugs. The first officer to arrive saw her through a basement window in a work shop area holding a knife. They got no response from her for many minutes and after several demands to surrender. They sent in a police dog which bit her. She was found in the ladies bathroom virtually unconscious and drunk by a female officer, and they learned she had a right to be there. Still, however, there was probable cause to believe that a burglary was going on by an armed person, and the officers are entitled to qualified immunity. There was no violation of clearly established law. James v. City of Boise, 2016 Ida. LEXIS 83 (March 23, 2016) (substituting for James v. City of Boise, 2015 Ida. LEXIS 130 (May 21, 2015)):

Thus, she asserts that the clearly established right at issue should be that she “had the basic and fundamental right not to be attacked by a police dog simply because she was mistaken for a burglar by overzealous police officers.” This formulation of the issue is clearly wrong. It assumes that the Police knew that the Plaintiff was “mistaken for a burglar.” The circumstances are not to be judged “with the 20/20 vision of hindsight.” Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 396, 109 S. Ct. 1865, 104 L. Ed. 2d 443 (1989). There is no constitutional right not to be mistaken for a criminal. “The Constitution does not guarantee that only the guilty will be arrested.” Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 145, 99 S. Ct. 2689, 61 L. Ed. 2d 433 (1979). “The Fourth Amendment is not violated by an arrest based on probable cause, even though the wrong person is arrested.” Graham, 490 U.S. at 396.