Legal Aid Rules and FAQ’s

This page will explain the NC Legal Aid Rules in detail, please ensure that all members read and understand how to properly fill out all paperwork and what information is needed so the Legal Aid Committee will have all necessary information when reviewing your case.

As an additional benefit to the FOP Membership, the FOP, through its Legal Defense Fund, offers to assist in the legal defense of members in good standing with the State Lodge and their local lodge when such members face litigation or prosecution for acts within the scope of a member’s employment as a law enforcement officer.

The Legal Defense Fund is for those situations where the law enforcement officer inflicts fatal or serious injuries upon a person or persons, is sued for civil damages or prosecuted on criminal charges related to any incident that occurs within the members’ scope of employment or faces suspension without pay or termination as a result of any incident that occurs within the member’s scope of employment.

By the provision of a legal defense fund, the State Lodge in no way admits to the liability of the officer-member, nor does the State Lodge admit any liability of the FOP in conjunction with the officer-member.

WHO IS COVERED?

All active FOP members who, at the time of the incident which necessitates legal defense, are active law enforcement officers in good standing with the NC FOP and their local lodge.

DOES THE FOP HAVE SUBROGATION RIGHTS?

Yes. The FOP is subrogated, up to the amount given towards legal defense, to any amounts received by the member as an award in the case. EXAMPLE: Member shoots Mr. Smith. Mr. Smith sues member. As part of the defense, member counter-claims for attorney fees and wins. FOP is repaid by the member up to the amount of FOP contribution from the attorney fees awarded by the Court to member.

MAY I CHOOSE MY ATTORNEY?

Yes. The State Lodge does not choose your attorney. However, the State Lodge through the Legal Aid Committee may recommend a particular attorney.

DOES THE FOP PAY ME OR MY ATTORNEY?

The NC FOP pays the attorney, upon the attorney’s submittal of a bill and the approval of the Legal Aid Committee.

CRITICAL INCIDENT SITUATIONS:

Approved legal defense funds are available upon the authorization of any local lodge or State Board of Director members in cases of an incident where the officer/member is involved in a situation where serious or fatal injuries have occurred as a result of an office/member’s actions within the scope of his/her employment. The FOP’s assistance is available by contacting a local lodge or State Board of Directors member and notifying him/her of the critical incident. The legal defense request may be done by phone with a follow-up request in writing. Funds will be made immediately available after the initial phone contact. The State Board of Director member will make initial notification to the Legal Aid Committee, for you, in these Critical Incident Situations.

PROGRAM RESTRICTIONS

Incident must occur in the performance of the officer’s official duty. Any alleged or actual act or omission that is not duty related will not be covered.

Eligible officers must make the request for assistance, in writing. In critical incident situations, immediate funds can be approved by any State Lodge Board of Directors member over the phone; however, a follow up written request is required for FOP files.

The written request must be sent to the Legal Aid Committee with copies to the Local Lodge President and to the Local State Trustee for the convenience of the State Lodge.

Any claims for payment with are not specifically related to legal defense matters, will not be covered.

The legal defense fund is applicable to payment claims not covered by insurance or other contributors. An exception occurs where the member-applicant belongs to a lodge which has a legal defense fund in place. In those cases, the State Lodge will pay legal claims first before the member-applicant need apply for local monies.

Continuation of this plan and such payments are required will be subject to the funds available in the Legal Defense Fund of the NC FOP and/or any additional funding for the program that may be approved by the Board of Directors.

The provision of Legal Defense Funds is designed solely to assist active members of the NC FOP with their legal defense in appropriate actions; however, in the provision of such funds, the NC FOP assumes no responsibility for the actions or inactions of its members.

Any incident that occurred prior to 27 October 1990 will only be covered by the plan if approved by a majority of such Board.