Civil Rights Violations
All Americans are guaranteed basic rights, known as civil rights, under the United States Constitution. The state of New York and New York City recognize additional rights and liberties. Unfortunately, all too often, police officers and others in authority positions violate these rights. When their violations of civil rights result in injury or death, the police may be held accountable in state or federal court. At Phillips & Associates, our civil rights lawyers advocate for people who have been harmed due to police misconduct or prosecutorial misconduct in New York City.Protections under Civil Rights Laws
The U.S. Constitution and some federal laws are designed to protect you from overly intrusive conduct by the government and its representatives. For example, you have the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment. However, nothing in the Constitution tells you how to enforce your Fourth Amendment right.
Title 42, Section 1983 of the United States Code is the law that provides a mechanism for enforcing your rights. Under this law, any person or entity that uses color of state law to deprive someone of federal Constitutional rights, immunities, or privileges can be sued in state or federal court. You can sue state and local officials, but not federal officials, under this law if your civil rights have been violated under color of state or local law. For example, if you need to make a claim that your constitutional rights were violated by the federal government or its officials, you can bring what is called a "Bivens" action under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
In order to prevail in a Section 1983 claim, you would need to show that the defendants deprived you of a right set forth under federal law and that the deprivation was committed under color of state law. Municipal ordinances or regulations, or a city's established policies, can give rise to municipal liability if the result is a deprivation of federal Constitutional rights.
Police misconduct and prosecutorial misconduct are often the basis for civil rights lawsuits. Police misconduct can include false arrests, surveillance abuse, assault, racial profiling, and corruption or bribes. Prosecutorial misconduct often takes the form of abuse of process or malicious prosecution.
Among the most common types of police misconduct cases are those involving excessive force by the police. This occurs when police officers abuse their authority during an investigation, raid, or arrest, resulting in severe injuries, permanent disability, or death. The standard for determining whether a police officer crossed a line and used excessive force is what a reasonable police officer would have done under the same circumstances.
Section 1983 cases are often brought in federal court because federal courts often produce faster, more consistent results. In some cases, however, it may be appropriate to file a lawsuit in state court.Hold Police and Prosecutors Accountable by Enlisting a New York City Lawyer
Civil rights violations cases can be challenging. The government can retain very sophisticated lawyers, and it is important you retain an equally aggressive, knowledgeable lawyer. Evidence can disappear or be erased, so it is important to act quickly if your rights have been violated. At Phillips & Associates, our civil rights attorney offer experienced representation for victims of excessive force or other improper conduct throughout New York City, including in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Queens. Call us at (212) 248-7431 or set up a consultation through our online form.