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District of Columbia v. Wesby (Argument October 4, 2017)


Police officers can be sued for making an arrest without probable cause – a false arrest. That’s what this case is about.

In this case, District of Columbia officers responded to a complaint of unlawful activity at a house party. A few people scattered; the officers might have smelled weed; there was some semi-nude dancing going on. Everyone said their friend Peaches had invited them to either a bachelor party or a birthday party. Peaches had told the partiers it was her new apartment.

Turns out, it wasn’t Peaches’ home. Peaches had, however, been in leasing discussions with the owner. The officers were able to talk to Peaches on the phone that night, who said she had in fact invited people over. The owner confirmed that he had been talking to Peaches about leasing, but he had not given anyone permission to be in the home.

The officers arrested some of the partiers for unlawful entry. They were later charged with disorderly conduct, although the officers testified they had not seen any behavior of disorderly conduct.

The partiers sued for false arrest. They claim the officers did not have probable cause for either charge. Our graphic outlines the argument of false arrest for unlawful entry.

About the Author

Mariam Morshedi

Mariam Morshedi

Mariam Morshedi is the Founder and Executive Director of Subscript Law. Before starting Subscript Law, she practiced civil rights law for AARP Foundation, where she litigated housing, consumer and disability rights issues.

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