We live in a world full of inequalities, such as discrimination, harassment, and abuse. It is not uncommon to see headlines related to different types of civil rights violations, including police misconduct or racial discrimination. However, as U.S. law makes clear, it is illegal to violate an individual’s constitutional rights.
Federal and state laws, such as the Bill of Rights, the U.S. Constitution, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, were created to protect citizens. They ensure that people are treated equally regardless of race, sex, or religion. However, infringements upon these rights are not always reported to the authorities, either out of fear or ignorance of the laws.
If you’ve experienced a situation where your civil rights have been violated, let us help you. In this article, we will show you the potential types of civil rights violations, including police misconduct, and how you can report them. Don’t miss the opportunity to speak up and deliver justice.
What is Considered a Civil Rights Violation and Police Misconduct?
Living in the United States means freedom. Throughout its history, thousands of people have fought for citizens to obtain constitutional rights that guarantee a range of protections. Defending individuals from all types of civil rights violations is the clear goal. These rights are essential to living together in society in a fair and equitable manner.
However, there are many daily cases of infringements that violate these rights under the Constitution. Some even lead to serious injury or death. But, when are civil rights violated?
A person’s civil rights are being violated when he or she is discriminated against or has his or her liberties taken away because of his or her:
- skin color,
- or disability.
As the FBI states, when this occurs, it is a violation of civil rights under the pretext of the law. The agency itself specifically highlights violence or racial hatred as the most common cases today. These, along with other types of constitutional violations, lead to “physical assaults, homicides, verbal or written threats, as well as desecration of property.”
Among the various civil rights violations, police misconduct is pervasive. This malpractice, qualified by law as acting “under color of,” occurs when there is improper behavior by a public employee, such as a police officer. This crime happens when one or more persons use the power and authority granted by a local, state, or federal agency to deprive someone of their constitutional rights.
What Are the Most Common Types of Civil Rights Violations?
Not all types of civil rights violations arise from police malpractice or by public officials. There are many reportable cases in which constitutional principles are violated. But unfortunately, many of them originate at the hands of law enforcement.
Below are the most common cases of civil rights violations arising from police misconduct and, to a lesser extent, other state officials:
- Excessive or Unreasonable Force/Police Brutality: Typically, this type of violation occurs when an individual is arrested. The aftermath usually comes in the form of serious physical injury or even death. This type of infringement is a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
- Abuse of Power/Authority: In cases where any state official uses his or her position of power for individual gain.
- False Arrest: If a law enforcement officer does not have a permit from a judge or sufficient evidence and still arrests an individual, it will be considered an illegal arrest. As with police brutality, this is a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
- Unlawful Detention: Arrested individuals become victims when their constitutional rights are violated while in police facilities or under police power.
- Discrimination: When someone is detained or interacted with under the pretext of discrimination. This violation of a citizen’s civil rights would violate the Fourth Amendment.
Other types of violations present today are:
- Malicious Prosecution: This situation focuses on law enforcement officers making police charges with the goal of damaging and impairing an individual’s reputation.
- Sexual Assault: Sexual misconduct exists when there is sexual harassment or abuse. This can be verbal or physical. Any non-consensual sexual act is also illegal in nature, such as rape.
- Negligent Shooting: Shooting or participating in a firefight that results in death or serious injury to individuals, when the circumstances did not require it.
- Prison Abuse: Among the types of civil rights violations, prison abuse is highly prevalent. Among the most common is sexual harassment, forcing and pressuring someone to perform a task for the benefit of certain officers, abuse of authority, excessive use of force, unreasonable police brutality, or discrimination against prisoners based on their status.
- Tampering with Witnesses or Evidence: These cases occur when there is illegal police conduct or unlawful behavior by state officials. Normally, this happens when public workers want to cover up mistakes. To do so, they intimidate, threaten, or pressure witnesses, as well as modify evidence.
- Police Dog Attacks: When a police dog commits a violent act that causes serious injury to an individual as a result of a direct order from the responsible officer. Likewise, it would also be misconduct if the animal acts on its own.
- Failure to Intervene: If a police officer, regardless of rank, is present in a case of police misconduct, or any other crime, and fails to intervene, it would violate his or her ethics and violate the civil rights of the victim.
Excessive or Unreasonable Force/Police Brutality
Brutality or excessive force is one of the most common types of police misconduct. And, because of the outrage it generates among the public, it is also the one that receives the most media attention. Typically, this negligence arises during an arrest and results in serious physical injury or death. Consequently, it is considered a violation of Fourth Amendment rights.
Law enforcement officers are authorized to use force, however, only as much as necessary to arrest the accused. If further violence and toughness are applied and end up being lethal, the officer can be charged with a crime.
Abuse of Power/Authority
The term “abuse of power” can encompass many types of unfair situations where civil rights are violated. Basically, it is any case where the police officer or anyone with local, state, or federal authority takes advantage of his or her position as a state official for a particular benefit. This can range from hacking into the police database to extract information to forcing someone to perform tasks.
As strange as it may sound, this is one of the most commonly filed complaints. When you suffer a false arrest, they are violating your Fourth Amendment rights. The only way this principle is not violated is if the officer has sufficient evidence that the individual has committed a crime. Without prior authorization from a judge or sufficient and logical evidence, any arrest will be illegal. This includes that citizens or their property may not be searched, nor surveillance or seizure of personal belongings is carried out.
Although it has many similarities to the first two on this list, this term focuses on baseless police charges that are intended to harm and ruin an individual’s reputation. The officer, by wrongfully depriving the victim of the victim’s Fourteenth Amendment right to liberty, can be severely punished.
A prosecution penalty is a malicious prosecution when the police:
- Uses a person of a crime to cover up police misconduct;
- Accuses someone to divert attention from the person responsible for the case;
- Files unfounded criminal charges against you to damage your reputation;
- Alter reports or statements against you;
- Or, as punishment for motives far removed from justice.
Stopping or targeting someone under the pretext of discrimination violates a citizen’s civil rights. A police officer’s responsibility is to prevent injustice and uphold the law. This means that they must cooperate in eliminating any stigma or exclusion based on race, national origin, or sex. If a law enforcement officer or public employee is racist or marginalizes an individual for reasons that infringe on their constitutional rights, they are committing a crime of police misconduct.
A case of sexual misconduct by a police officer or state worker takes place when there has been sexual harassment or abuse of an individual. Any non-consensual sexual acts, attempted rapes, or rapes, whether on an adult or a minor of either sex, are also considered unlawful behavior.
There are many cases of police negligence that end in shootings. Although officers know that firearms should be used in extreme situations, every year there are more and more cases of civilian shootings. Especially in California. And, many of them, when they were unarmed.
In recent years, other non-lethal methods have been introduced, such as explosive bags or Tasers. However, these also have negative health consequences, causing significant injuries to the victim.
More and more people think that the inability of police officers to resolve situations is the reason behind most shootings. Any shooting that causes a fatality or serious injury is part of negligence. And, therefore, police misconduct.
Civil rights are the same for everyone. Including those who are in jail for committing a crime. However, these constitutional principles are often not respected in prisons. According to multiple interviews and research, individuals in correctional facilities experience police misconduct on a regular basis.
From sexual abuse to coercion to perform tasks for the benefit of officers, abuse of authority, police brutality, excessive use of force, as well as discrimination based on their status as prisoners. In addition to physical injuries, the recruits carry very distressing emotional injuries for the rest of their lives. Fortunately, in the wake of the latest allegations, police violence in prisons is making headlines. Complaints against prison officers have risen significantly and, with it, compensation for victims.
Tampering with Witnesses or Tampering with Evidence
These situations usually arise as a result of police misconduct or unlawful conduct by public officials. This usually occurs in an attempt to cover up their own mistakes or those of someone close to them. To do so, such individuals focus on coercing witnesses or modifying evidence. In this way, they are able to change the actual evidence of the case, in violation of the Constitution. On the other hand, there are also known cases of officers acting illegally by trying to pressure individuals to give false testimony or withdraw complaints.
Police Dog Attacks
The dogs that are part of the police force are very useful tools to solve cases. They are animals that always fulfill the function they are given. The problem comes when the officer responsible for the police dog gives a negligent order.
The personal injuries that such a trained and compliant animal can cause are often serious. Sometimes even death. Depending on the severity of the attack, victims can file a claim for damages.
Failure to Intervene
If a member of law enforcement witnesses a case of police misconduct, or even a crime, and fails to intervene, it could also give rise to negligence. The responsibility of law enforcement officers is to ensure the safety and security of rights and liberty. Something that, when there is a lack of voluntary intervention, has an impact on a possible crime.
Does Police Misconduct Violate Civil Rights?
Any action that violates a citizen’s civil rights is a violation of constitutional law. Therefore, if any of the above types of civil rights violations are committed by any law enforcement officer, it would be considered a crime.
Unfortunately, cases of police malpractice happen more than we think. However, these injustices are not exposed to the public as much as they should be. Many citizens do not know how to take legal action against the police or are afraid to do so. Even so, more and more victims are beginning to seek justice for police misconduct in California. One of the examples showing the trend of victims suing was observed in late 2022. Then, Los Angeles County compensated five families with $47 million for different situations of police misconduct.
Police killed more people in 2022 than any other year in the past decade. 1,186 people were killed by police in 2022. Black people were 3x more likely to be killed by police than white people, and 1.3x more likely to be unarmed. https://t.co/fuctZOCccO— Udi Ofer (@udiofer_) January 28, 2023
Can I File A Civil Rights Violation Complaint For Unlawful Police Behavior In California?
Yes. As we have previously explained, any action that goes against an individual’s constitutional principles is a crime. And, as a result, it could be subject to a lawsuit. In fact, due to recent cases of police misconduct and other types of civil rights violations by various public officials, more and more victims are reporting personal injury cases to a state or federal employee.
This is possible because of Section 1983 of the U.S. Civil Rights Act. This federal statute was enacted in 1871 with the goal of ending any oppressive conduct by the state. The Constitution also supports this law under two amendments, the Fourth and Fourteenth.
The United States also has the Bivens Act. This is primarily aimed at penalizing unconstitutional actions by federal officials.
Adamson Ahdoot, A Reliable Choice To Report Police Misconduct Personal Injury Cases
Our law firm was the chosen legal representation to handle one of the most controversial police misconduct cases in recent years. In March 2021, David Ordaz Jr. was killed by officers in a case of police brutality in front of his home when he was in the midst of a mental breakdown. One of the police officers, Remin Pineda, fired up to 12 shots when the victim was already on the ground. In November 2022, he was charged with felonies of assault with a semi-automatic firearm and assault under the pretext of authority.
This police negligence, involving excessive use of force and abuse of authority, was brought to court months later. Adamson Ahdoot was the personal injury law firm in charge of handling this wrongful death case.
Have You Suffered Any Type of Civil Rights Violation? We Can Help
Experiencing unfair situations that violate our rights can be extremely unpleasant. In addition to the possible psychological damages, in many cases, there are also physical personal injuries. In other instances, even death.
If you or someone in your family has had to deal with a civil rights violation due to police misconduct, do not hesitate to contact us. With over 100 years of combined legal experience, we are one of the premier choices for legal representation in California. Our team guarantees success for our clients in every case.
In addition to having exceptional legal knowledge, our attorneys are sensitive and understanding to every situation. We put our clients first while building a strong case so that you can receive the highest possible compensation.
Available 24/7, our team can assist you with your consultation in English or Spanish. Call (800) 310-1606 today if you would like to file a claim. The first appointment is completely free.