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How your disability could have factored into your arrest

On Behalf of | Jan 29, 2018 | Blog

Many people have disabilities. Quite a few fall under the purview of the ADA, depending on the situation. Even if your disability does not, it could have factored unfairly into your arrest. For example, if you rolled or hurt your ankle earlier in the day and told that to a disbelieving police officer, he or she could have basically set you up to fail a field sobriety test.

Similarly, if you are deaf and use an ASL interpreter and insisted on one during a DUI interrogation, a police officer who ignored that request could have been in the wrong. What happens in some of these cases is that the officer asks any passengers in the car to interpret or insists on lip reading. A refusal to accommodate reasonable requests and to use techniques such as de-escalation instead of force hinders communication and can lead to misunderstandings and unnecessary arrests.

Reaching for something

Your disability could have factored into your arrest in an indirect way that set the stage for negative interaction. That is, if you needed to reach for a notepad and pen or something like a walking stick, the police officer could have thought you were going for a weapon and jumped into a confrontational mode that is hard to let go of. For the rest of the interaction, the officer might have treated you with high suspicion and made horrible assumptions.

Misunderstandings about rights

It also happens that sometimes, especially in an urgent situation, police have to act quickly, and a person with a disability feels they have been the victim of illegal treatment. Suppose police are called to a home where the suspect, a deaf man, is holding a bloody baseball bat above the head of a bleeding child, and neighbors said they saw him striking the child through the window. The officer may be able to legally make an arrest then and arrange for an interpreter at the police station. It can be confusing and frustrating, of course, for the deaf person in that situation to be denied the means to communicate. If you think your disability played a role in how police treated or arrested you, your lawyer may be able to factor that into the case.

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