Section 1983 Fourth Amendment Claims v. State Law False Arrest Claims

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While the existence of probable cause renders the arrest reasonable under the Fourth Amendment, and thus constitutional, more is needed to authorize Edgerly’s custodial arrest under state law. Cf. People v. McKay, 41 P.3d 59, 71 (Cal. 2002) (holding that state arrest procedures do not limit the constitutionality of arrests under the Fourth Amendment, but emphasizing that that holding “in no way countenance[s] violations of state arrest procedure,” as “[v]iolation of those rights exposes the peace officers and their departments to civil actions seeking injunctive or other relief”). As noted above, a first offense under section 602.8(a) is punishable only as an infraction and, under California law, “[i]n all cases . . . in which a person is arrested for an infraction,” custodial arrest is authorized “[o]nly if the arrestee refuses to sign a written promise [to appear], has no satisfactory identification, or refuses to provide a thumbprint or fingerprint.” Cal. Penal Code § 853.5(a).
Here, because the Officers did not testify that Edgerly met any of these three requirements, or that they had reason to believe that he previously violated section 602.8(a), the custodial arrest was not authorized by state law. Further, because this limitation on arrests for mere infractions was clearly established by statutory law, the officers did not have “reasonable cause to believe the arrest was lawful” under state law, and they are not entitled to immunity from civil liability. See Cal. Penal Code § 847(b)(1) (providing that officers areentitled to immunity from false arrest claims if “the arrest waslawful” or the officers had “reasonable cause to believe thearrest was lawful”); see also O’Toole v. Superior Court, 44Cal. Rptr. 3d 531, 548-49 (Cal. Ct. App. 2006) (noting thatpolice officers are not granted governmental immunity forfalse arrest or false imprisonment under California law, but that California Penal Code section 847 protects them from civil liability under certain circumstances). We therefore reverse and remand for further proceedings on this state lawclaim.
Edgerly v. San Francisco (CA9) (here).