overview of CIVIL RIGHTS PROTECTION
OVERVIEW OF CIVIL RIGHTS PROTECTION
Everyone in the United States has rights that are guaranteed and protected by the Constitution of the United States and Pennsylvania’s Constitution. These rights include, but are not limited to, freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of religion, the right to be free of warrantless searches and seizures, equal protection under the law, the right not to be arrested absent probable cause, and due process.
When the government, one of its employees, or a person or business closely related to the government violates a person’s rights, Congress has provided a remedy under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This remedy allows for the recovery of monetary damages, attorney’s fees, and costs if your claim is successful.
Some common examples of civil rights violations are:
Police use of excessive force or other brutality;
Police falsely arresting a person;
The Government searching and seizing your property without a warrant or any valid exception to the warrant requirement;
Discrimination by the government or a state actor, which can include private businesses and employers in certain situations, based upon a person’s race, gender, religion, disability, medical condition, or sexual orientation.
A teacher assaulting or otherwise abusing a student;
Retaliation for exercising a right; and
The right to be free from governmental intrusion in your home without a warrant or a valid exception to the warrant requirement.
The above list is not exhaustive. We as Americans possess many rights and privileges. If you believe that your civil rights have been violated, call us today for a free consultation.
Illegal Search and Seizure
The police and other state actors routinely engage in searches and seizures that are aimed at retrieving evidence of a crime. However, the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
The Fourth Amendment, in most situations, requires the police or other state actors to obtain a search warrant from a court before they search or seize your property. If they do not obtain a search warrant, your rights have probably been violated. In addition to the remedies that Lampman Law, acting as criminal attorneys, can seek for you, such as suppression, it is possible that you can recover monetary damages in a civil suit.
In order to establish a claim for a false arrest in violation of your constitutional rights, a person must show that (1) an arrest was made and (2) that the arrest was made without probable cause. This can happen if you were arrested on false charges or if the police arrested you when there was no probable cause to believe that you committed any crime.
Claims of police brutality and excessive force are analyzed under the Fourth Amendment’s objective reasonableness standard. Since courts use this standard, every excessive force case is different and a determination of whether you have a valid claim or not depends upon the facts of your case. Therefore, factors such as whether the person was an immediate danger to police officers or others, the severity of any crime committed, and whether a person may be armed are all part of determining whether a person can state a claim for the excessive use of force.
Call us today for a free consultation regarding the specific facts of your case.
A person must establish the following to state a claim of malicious prosecution: (1) criminal proceedings were initiated against the person; (2) the criminal proceedings terminated in the person’s favor; (3) the proceeding was initiated without probable cause; (4) the defendants acted maliciously or for a purpose other than bringing the plaintiff to justice; and (5) the plaintiff suffered a deprivation of liberty consistent with the concept of seizure as a consequence of a legal proceeding. These elements are difficult to prove and the facts of your specific situation matter. Also, prosecutors such as District Attorneys and Assistant District Attorneys enjoy far reaching immunity for most of their actions. Therefore, it is important to consult with an attorney to determine if a lawsuit can be successful.
In addition to establishing that your civil rights have been violated, you may also have to get passed the barrier of qualified immunity. Qualified immunity provides that certain officials, such as police officers, are entitled to immunity (i.e. they cannot be held responsible) if the right that has been violated was not clearly established or if a constitutional right was not violated. This provides fairly broad immunity from liability for certain government officials and it is best to consult with an attorney to determine if qualified immunity could prevent you from recovering damages in your case.
Statute of Limitations
Most civil rights claims have a two-year statute of limitations that runs from the time your rights were violated. Therefore, time is of the essence. Call us today for a free consultation.