While it is true that police officers have certain rights and power that the average citizen doesn’t have, they are still required to follow certain laws while performing in their line of duty. Some very important laws you should become aware of, especially if you are the victim of police misconduct, include the Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the OJP Program Statute along with the Police Misconduct Provision. So, what do each of these laws say and how can they be used to help a victim who is looking to seek justice against an officer of the law that was abusive or violated their rights?
Below we have defined both of these laws for you and included the ways in which the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) punishes any officer who violates them.
- Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964and the “OJP Program Statute”
According to the DOJ, these laws together “prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, and religion by State and local law enforcement agencies that receive financial assistance from the Department of Justice.” Most of the police agencies you are familiar with do, in fact, receive financial assistance from the DOJ which means their officers are required to abide by these laws. Not only do these laws apply to individual instances such as isolated incidents, but also “patterns or practices of discriminatory misconduct.” Some example of misconduct the DOJ states are covered by the Title VI and the OJP Program Statute include:
- Harassment or use of racial slurs
- Unjustified arrests
- Discriminatory traffic stops such as those done out of racial profiling
- Coercing someone to engage in sexual conduct
- Retaliation for filing a complaint with DOJ or participating in the investigation
- Use of excessive force
- Refusal by the agency to respond to complaints alleging discriminatory treatment by its officers.
- “Police Misconduct Provision”
The Police Misconduct Provision “makes it unlawful for State or local law enforcement officers to engage in a pattern or practice of conduct that deprives persons of rights protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States. (42 U.S.C. § 14141).” Now, unlike the laws we discussed above, this covers misconduct that is a “pattern or practice,” not an isolated incident. In order for the DOJ to use this law to recognize an officer and/or their department for misconduct after receiving a complaint, it must “be able to show in court that the agency has an unlawful policy or that the incidents constituted a patternof unlawful conduct.”
Some examples of the misconduct this law covers include:
- Excessive force
- Discriminatory harassment
- False arrests
- Coercive sexual conduct
- Unlawful stops, searches or arrests
Now, anyone who considers themselves to be a victim of police brutality does have the right to file a complaint with the DOJ when they feel their rights were violated and/or the officer they came in contact with failed to comply with the laws mentioned above. After the DOJ receives a complaint against a police officer, the complaint may be forwarded to a specific office based on the circumstances surrounding the allegations and a civil and/or criminal case will be opened. If you’re wondering what the difference is between a criminal and civil case, the DOJ defines them as the following:
Criminal Cases Involving Law Enforcement Officers
Criminal cases can be brought against a person who has been accused of misconduct, although the evidence used to identify their inappropriate behavior “must establish proof “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The DOJ punishes a “wrongdoer for past misconduct through imprisonment or other sanction.”
Civil Cases Involving Police Officers
These cases are generally brought against a governmental authority or law enforcement agency, not just one officer. The only proof the DOJ needs is evidence “that satisfies the lower standard of a “preponderance of the evidence.” When a civil action is taken against a department it is often used to “correct a law enforcement agency’s policies and practices that fostered the misconduct.” It may also require that the department provide relief to the victim of the misconduct, generally in the form of compensation.
Filing a Complaint Against a Police Officer in Gilchrist County, FL
If you are the victim of any of the forms of misconduct highlighted above and are looking to file a complaint against an officer or agency, contact USAttorneys.com to get connected with a local Gilchrist County, FL police brutality attorney. Although the DOJ takes matters that involve law enforcement officials very seriously, rarely are those who engage in inappropriate behavior ever recognized for their misconduct. However, when you choose to retain a lawyer and are properly represented by a legal expert who is familiar with this field of law, you stand a chance at not only acknowledging an office for their unjust behavior, but also recovering compensation as a form of relief for the pain and suffering they have caused you.
Ready to find a police brutality attorney in Gilchrist County, FL who is ready and available to help you? If so, contact USAttorneys.com today.