What To Do if Your Civil Rights Have Been Violated?
When your legal rights are infringed by the police, to whom do you turn for help? After all, the police are there to protect you, right? Sadly, along with a lot of your fellow citizens, you may have just discovered that things don’t always work the way they’re meant to, and that those very people who have sworn to protect citizens can end up violating their rights. But you can find help and support from a civil rights lawyer if you have been wrongly accused of a crime or otherwise had your legal rights violated.
Have your rights been violated?
You’ve just had a disturbing encounter with law enforcement and feel that you have been a victim of police misconduct. Or perhaps a friend or neighbor has been subject to unlawful search and seizure. Or your son has been stopped by traffic police without dong anything wrong. How do you tell if your rights have been violated? A legal consultation with a civil rights attorney can help you to determine if your rights have been violated, and what actions you can take.
Some of the commonest ways in which civil rights can be violated are:
There are laws and rules police officers must follow when making an arrest. One of the most basic principles of civil rights is that police can’t just arrest anyone on suspicion, but they must have probable cause to do so. Probable cause means reason to believe that the person has committed a crime. Most often, they need a warrant to arrest someone. When police arrest someone without following these procedures, it is called a false arrest.
Police are allowed to stop and talk to a person, but not to detain them or to seize their property.
The 14th Amendment guarantees the right to liberty. Legal rights are violated by malicious prosecution, when a police officer goes after a victim without probable cause. A police investigation must be based on well documented reasons. Singling out an individual for investigation without probable cause constitutes malicious prosecution.
Excessive/ Unreasonable Force
The use of excessive force is one of the commonest complaints of police misconduct. Police officers are allowed to use a reasonable amount of force in dealing with criminals or suspected criminals. However the law prohibits them from using excessive force. Police training emphasizes that there is a fine between reasonable and excessive force, which should not be crossed. In most situations, reasonable force is the minimum amount of force to apprehend a suspect.
The use of excessive force most often gives rise to complaints of police brutality as it causes injuries and even death.
Failure to Intervene
Police officers have sworn an oath to protect citizens from violations of their constitutional rights. An office witnessing such a violation must intervene. Failure to intervene is a violation of the victim’s right to protection.
Search and Seizure
The Constitution protects citizens from unlawful searches and seizures. Police must have probable cause to search a person or property and cannot obtain a search warrant without probable cause.
What to do if your rights have been violated?
When law enforcement turns law breaker, where do you turn for help? A civil rights attorney can guide you through your options. Section 1983, Title 42, of the United States Code is the civil rights law that victims of police misconduct and their advocates primarily rely upon. Passed in 1871 as part of the Civil Rights Act, it was intended to check oppressive behavior by government officials and private individuals acting through vigilante groups. Section 1983 makes it illegal for law enforcement or anyone acting with state authority to violate the rights guaranteed to the individual by the U.S. Constitution and federal laws.
If your legal rights have been violated by law enforcement, you may have remedies. An experienced civil rights law firm can help you to fight for your rights.