Civil rights exist to make sure that the government and any government employees such as police officers do not find arbitrary reasons to abuse their authority. Civil rights are usually used to stop discrimination against someone based on a protected characteristic like race, religion, or gender. This stems from the fundamental belief in America that all people should be treated equally by the law, and the government must have a specific reason described by federal or local law to take action against any person.
A number of civil rights laws have been passed by states and the U.S. government over the years to prevent discrimination and abuses of power. The government or an employer also cannot retaliate against someone for exercising their rights under these laws.
Violations of civil rights
In the context of law enforcement, police are only supposed to make an arrest when they have probable cause to detain someone based on an illegal act. When police falsely arrest someone, hurt them with various forms of violence, or abuse their authority in other ways they violate that person’s civil rights, they have committed a violation.
Reasons why police get sued for civil rights violations
Many common violations of civil rights violations that become the basis for police brutality lawsuits include excessive use of force, improper use of deadly force, planted evidence, racial profiling, improper arrests and detentions, sexual harassment, and any other form of abuse that does not serve a real law enforcement or public safety purpose. Because police are given a very serious responsibility where they can detain people or use lethal force to protect the public, it is also necessary to make sure this responsibility is being taken seriously and only used for legitimate reasons.
Are police disciplined in other ways for civil rights violations?
All departments have an internal affairs division that is either run by the state or local government which monitors officer conduct. When an officer is accused of misconduct with a formal complaint, internal affairs is supposed to investigate and determine what sort of discipline is necessary. While this sounds good in theory, internal affairs generally does not punish officers severely enough for their misbehavior.
In some cases, an officer can be prosecuted in the criminal court system if their civil rights violation is serious. Incidents where police beat defenseless suspects or shoot and kill someone at a crime scene are common ways that officers find themselves as defendants in criminal court.
Remedies for civil rights violations
The various civil rights laws specifically say government employees and entities cannot act outside of their authority to take away someone’s rights and harm them. Lawyers who deal with civil injury cases and police misconduct have consistently used these laws over the years to help people. Those who have experienced losses due to illegal police action can get paid through a settlement agreement or jury verdict after a trial.
Talk with a lawyer who deals with civil rights violations
There are attorneys all over the country who help people file cases against the police and protect their civil rights. To find a police brutality lawyer in your area, use the listings on USAttorneys.com for your state.