qualified immunity


law : immunity from civil liability that is conditioned or limited (as by a requirement of good faith or due care)
especially : immunity from lawsuits that is granted to public officials (such as police officers) for acts that violate someone's civil rights if it can be shown that the acts do not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would be aware
An officer conducting a search is entitled to qualified immunity where clearly established law does not show that the search violated the Fourth Amendment. Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223 (2009)
Wayne Jones's family won a small victory this month when the federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the officers involved in his killing could not claim qualified immunity. Hailey Fuchs
By bypassing qualified immunity, but paying out judgments assessed against the officers, Colorado's new law ensures that victims are made whole and that good cops aren't deterred from doing their jobs. Nick Sibilla

Examples of qualified immunity in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Attorneys representing the sheriff and the county argued the sheriff was entitled to qualified immunity and that jail staff had taken measures to care for Anderson, pointing out that hospital staff had medically cleared her to be taken to jail. Isabelle Taft, ProPublica, 7 Dec. 2023 In response to the Compton lawsuit, the defendants argued they were shielded by qualified immunity, a doctrine that protects government officials from liability for violations of constitutional rights that are not clearly established. Isabelle Taft, ProPublica, 7 Dec. 2023 In Sosa’s pending case of a valid warrant enforced against the wrong person, the police officers are seeking protection from lawsuits based on the doctrine of qualified immunity. WIRED, 14 Sep. 2023 Police officers have qualified immunity, which means they are generally shielded from criminal prosecution, so for people alleging misconduct, lawsuits may be the only recourse. Kerry Breen, CBS News, 23 Sep. 2023 After Dorsey’s family sued, a lower court agreed with the family that qualified immunity did not protect Agdeppa from personal liability in the matter. Kevin Rector, Los Angeles Times, 30 Aug. 2023 But qualified immunity may be built on an even shakier foundation than many of those critics previously thought. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 23 Aug. 2023 As its name suggests, qualified immunity is a partial shield for state and local officials against Section 1983 claims. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 23 Aug. 2023 The doctrine of qualified immunity is based on that premise. Adam Liptak, New York Times, 15 May 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'qualified immunity.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

circa 1859, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of qualified immunity was circa 1859

Dictionary Entries Near qualified immunity

Cite this Entry

“Qualified immunity.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/qualified%20immunity. Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

Legal Definition

qualified immunity

see immunity

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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