Defending against criminal charges or civil litigation can be very costly. Law enforcement officers should also know the extent to which they might be indemnified from the expense of defending against such charges or civil litigation, including from attorney’s fees, compensatory and punitive damages. The cost of defending against these charges can be financially crippling and life-changing. Law enforcement officers should understand how they will meet the challenge of legal fees in addition to meeting the burden of routine living expenses. Consideration of these costs should be weighed, too, in light of potential suspension or termination from employment.
Evaluating these risks, particularly the financial risks, should occur before involvement in a serious or fatal force incident. Fraternal organizations or benevolent associations, or private insurance, often provide options to “going it alone” that could leave an officer and their family mired in legal debts.
* March 2017, by Stephen Thayer on behalf of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund. This document is provided as a summary overview. Contact your attorney for detailed guidance. Also, refer to related documents on our website, www.policedefense.org