Civil rights are personal rights guaranteed and protected by the United States Constitution and federal laws enacted by Congress. The specific areas of civil rights violations that we handle include:
- Police Brutality / Police Misconduct
- Cruel and Unusual Punishment
- Violation of Search and Seizure
- False Arrest
- Malicious Prosecution
- False Imprisonment
Police Brutality / Police Misconduct entails an unnecessary use of force. When making an arrest, police officers are authorized to use reasonable force. The unreasonable or unnecessary use of force is police brutality. Police officers do have broad authority to carry out their duties, but there are boundaries in place to protect the civil rights of citizens. Police also do have some immunity from lawsuits called “qualified immunity”. The wronged person would have to prove that the police acted in a willful and unreasonable manner.
Cruel and Unusual Punishment of inmates, arrestees, and detainees. Incarcerated people are always at the mercy of jail employees. As such, they are dependent on them for their health and safety, including access to medical care and protection from assault. Often arrestees or inmates in medical distress have been ignored until serious, irreversible consequences have occurred. Unfortunately, people have been seriously injured or even killed while in custody as a result of this negligence or outright abuse.
Violation of Search and Seizure The 4th Amendment to the US Constitution recognizes the right of the people to be secure in their “persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” Searches should be based on a warrant or probable cause, or a reasonably articulable suspicion in certain circumstances. Searches must be justified at their inception and in their scope as the search proceeds. Illegal searches and confiscations violate your civil rights.
False Arrest The police need a warrant or probable cause to believe you committed a crime and make a valid arrest. Often, police may end escalating encounters by making an arrest first, and deciding later what to charge the person. Holding someone in custody without probable cause or court order may rise to a civil rights violation.
Malicious Prosecution may be present when someone is prosecuted in a judicial proceeding by another when there was no probable cause to do so. The proceeding must end in favor of the prosecuted person and it must be shown that the prosecutor or person who initiated the proceeding acted with malice. Finally, it must be shown that this person actually suffered damages.
False Imprisonment means forcibly, by threat, or secretly confining, abducting, imprisoning, or restraining another person without lawful authority and against her or his will. In Florida, false imprisonment is a felony but it is also a civil cause of action.
Bringing a civil lawsuit on a valid claim can bring the facts to light about what actually happened. Most importantly, it can bring justice and compensation to the victims and their families, and ultimately, ensure that our society has better practices in place to protect others in the future.
If you have experienced an incident where your civil rights were violated, contact Sherris Legal, P.A. to determine if you have a potential claim so that you understand your rights and options.