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Civil Rights

Los Angeles Civil Rights Violations Lawyers

Protecting the people of CA when police interfere with their constitutional rights

Police misconduct and brutality involves officers of the law engaging in activities, violent or otherwise, that result in violating an individual’s civil rights. Although law enforcement has the authority to protect citizens, they do not have the authority to do so by abusing or mistreating people in their custody. This includes excessive force, unlawful seizures and racial profiling.

The Los Angeles police misconduct attorneys at Taylor & Ring have a successful record of settlements for clients in civil rights actions against city, county and state police departments and jail and prison systems. We invoke your Constitutional rights and seek justice on your behalf when those rights are abused.

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What are civil rights violations?

All law enforcement officers are required to follow reasonable standards of behavior on the job. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) maintains a list of its high-priority civil rights issues. Under their “color of law” issues, which are acts carried out by government officials operating both within and beyond the limits of their lawful authority, they include:

  • Excessive force
  • Sexual assault
  • False arrest and obstruction of justice
  • Deprivation of medical care
  • Failure to keep from harm

Other civil rights violation stemming from police misconduct include illegal search and seizure, prison suicide, false imprisonment, and racial profiling.

How does police brutality relate to the Constitution?

Although police and law enforcement act on behalf of the government, the Constitution defines the limits of their authority. Victims of police misconduct may be able to bring up a number of claims under their constitutional rights, depending on their circumstances. Following are three of the most common types of police misconduct that lead to violation of an individual’s civil rights.

Excessive force

The term “excessive force” is when a police officer uses an unreasonable amount of force while performing their official duties. All citizens are protected from excessive force under the Fourth Amendment. Whether or not an officer’s use of force is reasonable depends on the circumstances, which is what our attorneys will independently investigate.

False arrest or imprisonment

You cannot be arrested or imprisoned without probable cause. False arrest is taking an individual into custody with no legal reason. False imprisonment is confining an individual without due process or consent. Both of these acts are a violation of Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure.

Malicious prosecution

In cases of malicious prosecution, an officer’s actions intentionally, and wrongfully, begin criminal proceedings against an individual. This is a violation of a person’s civil rights to liberty and due process under the Fourteenth Amendment. Essentially, malicious prosecution is a baseless accusation brought against someone in order to harass or intimidate them – an arrest without probable cause. For a successful malicious prosecution case, the resulting proceeding must have ruled in the plaintiff’s favor.

The Los Angeles civil rights attorneys at Taylor & Ring can help you assert your civil rights and secure compensation for the injuries and damages you have experienced. There are several pathways to justice.

What is qualified immunity and how does it protect the police?

The legal doctrine of qualified immunity protects government officials, like police officers and prison/jail officials, from civil lawsuits seeking monetary damages. It can be applied when officers exercise their own discretion in an official capacity and, when successfully invoked, leads to dismissal of civil claims against them.

What does this mean for everyday citizens? Police officers can use excessive force without fear of being sued, unless their actions violated clearly established constitutional rights. Simply put, qualified immunity produces little to no punishment for law enforcement officials. Amid call after call for the U.S. Supreme Court to review this doctrine, they have so far declined to take up the matter. Recently, the Supreme Court declined to take the case of a woman whose home was destroyed by a SWAT team looking for a suspect, then claiming qualified immunity from damages incurred.

Here’s the problem with qualified immunity. To be successful in court, a victim and their attorney must show an earlier Supreme Court or federal appeals court decision that held the exact same police conduct under the exact same circumstances unconstitutional. If no previous decision exists, the officer typically receives qualified immunity by default.

Bringing a civil rights suit under Section 1983

Section 1983 is part of the Civil Rights Act of 1871, and protects citizens from being deprived of their constitutional rights. Originally passed to protect freed slaves after the Civil War from harassment and assault, it allowed Black victims to file for monetary damages in federal court.

A victim may file a Section 1983 lawsuit if the wrongdoer was acting under the “color of law,” which means that they were acting under the authority of a local, state or federal agency.

Violations of your constitutional rights under Section 1983 include:

Only your federal rights are protected by this type of civil lawsuit. Technically, nobody can break Section 1983 as a law – it’s more of a procedural device to allow federal courts to hear civil rights cases. Under Section 1983, you may bring legal action against officials including police chiefs and officers, sheriffs and deputies, prison guards, ICE officers and correctional facility officers. Typically, Section 1983 cases do not reach the federal level. Section 1983 claims are also subject the qualified immunity defense.

The experienced legal team at Taylor & Ring can explain these types of claims in more detail.

Bringing a civil rights suit under the Bane Act

The Tom Bane Civil Rights Act, known as the Bane Act, provides victims of police brutality the right to sue for violation of their civil rights. Victims may take legal action against anyone who interferes with their constitutional rights via intimidation, threats or violence – including police and other law enforcement officials. Interference with your constitutional rights includes your right to vote, speak and protest peacefully, bear arms and associate with the people you choose. You may file a lawsuit under the Bane Act even if you are not part of a protected class, although you may also file under the Act if you are a victim of racial profiling or sexual/gender discrimination.

To prove your case in a Bane Act lawsuit, you must show that you were harmed in some way and that the defendant’s conduct caused that harm. An officer’s or guard’s actions did not necessarily have to prevent you from exercising your rights – if fear or threat was present, you may be eligible for a claim.

A successful claim under the Bane Act can recover medical bills, lost wages, property damage and other compensation.

The attorneys at Taylor & Ring have a wealth of experience protecting the rights of the people of Southern California. When law enforcement steps outside of bounds and harms the people they’re paid to protect, we can help. We uphold your civil rights and seek damages for your civil rights violations.

Dedicated civil rights and police misconduct attorneys

Civil rights and the Constitution are the backbone of our country, and provide a much-needed balance between law enforcement and our citizens. When these rights are violated, turn to the Los Angeles attorneys at Taylor & Ring. Bringing a case against the police can be complicated – we know how to do it properly and we can help. Let us listen to your story and offer our evaluation of your legal options. Call 310-776-6390 or complete our contact form today. Your first consultation is free.

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