Understanding Your Civil Rights

September 23, 2012 | Civil Rights

What Is A Civil Right?

A Fairfield County civil rights attorney can assist you if an incident occurred where your civil rights were violated. For many people, few things are more important than their civil rights. However, frequently, confusion exists over what constitutes a civil rights violation.

Civil rights are those personal liberties that are protected by the United States Constitution. A civil rights violation occurs when a government agent breaches a right guaranteed by the Constitution.

Frequently Actionable Civil Rights

Many of the cases that a Fairfield County civil rights attorney handles involve 4th Amendment civil rights violations. These include such things as unlawful arrests, uses of excessive force, and illegal searches by authorities. An unlawful arrest occurs when an officer fails to have probable cause or a warrant for an arrest. Excessive force incidents usually involve an arresting officer using more force than is necessary to detain or arrest someone. An illegal search may occur if the officer did not have consent to engage in the search, or secure a proper search warrant.

Also, it is not uncommon for a Fairfield County civil rights attorney to handle 8th Amendment violations. The 8th Amendment protects you against cruel and unusual punishment. The cases we pursue typically involve incidents that happen while a person is in jail. For instance, when a prisoner is provided inadequate medical attention, or when some other harm to the person occurs because of an action or inaction by jail personnel. These can be difficult cases to pursue as laws generously protect jail employees, and allow great latitude for them to make decisions. However, if there is clear-cut evidence of an action or failure to act that resulted in major harm to the prisoner, then the recoverable damages on behalf of the prisoner can be substantial.

Things that Are Not Civil Rights Violations

  • Actions or inactions that cause you harm by persons other than a government agent are not violations of your civil rights.
  • A reasonable mistake by a police officer will not be a civil rights violation.  If a cop honestly, but mistakenly, believed you were armed and used excessive force, there may not have been a violation.
  • Any actions that do not violate your constitutional rights are not civil rights violations.  Many actions or inactions may be actionable pursuant to state or federal statutes, but not based on the U.S. Constitution.
  • Harassment by police officers is not a violation of your civil rights.  The harassing actions may violate other laws, but not civil rights ones.  More likely you will have to pursue an action again the police department.
  • Inappropriate actions by police officers when they are off duty are not going to be civil rights violations.

You should consult a Fairfield County civil rights attorney to clarify whether the offending or harm causing action is actionable as a civil rights violation, or possibly pursuant to other laws.

We Can Help

If you are facing a civil rights matter or have questions, you should consult with a Fairfield County civil rights attorney immediately. To schedule a free consultation with Fairfield County civil rights attorney Mitchell Baker, please call (914) 681-9500.