If you believe that your civil rights have been violated, you can seek legal help from the attorneys at Baron & Herskowitz. We represent individuals in Miami and throughout the state of Florida in claims involving civil rights violations and other personal injuries.
Civil rights violations are often viewed as police misconduct and a statute called Section 1983. The law first went into effect as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1871. Section 1983 was passed to oppose oppressive actions by the government as well as vigilante groups like the Ku Klux Klan.
This section of the law makes it illegal for a state or local government employee to deny someone of their civil rights as these rights are defined by the Constitution or state or federal laws. Someone who believes their rights have been violated in this way can sue the alleged perpetrator in court.
Under this section, neither private individuals nor federal officials can be sued. The alleged victim can only sue local or state employees. These civil rights violations often concern the illegal acts of the police. The complaints filed often have to do with false arrest, use of excessive force, malicious prosecution and failure to intervene.
False arrest is the most common charge an alleged victim brings against the police. People who claim they were arrested falsely say the police violated their Fourth Amendment right to protection against unreasonable seizure. The law says a person’s Fourth Amendment’s rights have not been violated if the police believed at the time of the arrest that it was defensible because:
- The officer had probable cause to believe the person had in fact committed a crime
- The arrest is reasonable
If the officer’s information at the time of arrest is inaccurate but the police officer had probable cause to believe it, the officer cannot be sued for probable cause. For someone to win a claim of false arrest, he or she must show the officer did not have probable cause.
To show that a police officer used excessive force, the victim needs to demonstrate that the facts and circumstances at the time of the act did not justify the use of excessive force. The officer’s intentions do not play a role in concluding excessive force was used. It does not matter if the officer intended to use excessive force, and used it, or didn’t intend to use excessive force, but still used it. The definition of excessive force is open to interpretation depending upon the circumstances. There is no set legal definition.
When someone claims a police officer maliciously prosecuted him or her, he or she is claiming deprivation of Fourteenth Amendment right to liberty. A claim of malicious prosecution of the victim must meet four definitions:
- The police officer must begin a criminal proceeding
- The proceeding did not result in a conviction (i.e., it ended in the victim’s favor)
- Probable cause was lacking
- The proceeding was brought with malice toward the victim
Failure to Intervene
A police officer may be prosecuted for standing by and witnessing police misconduct without intervening.
Contact a Florida Civil Rights Lawyer
If you believe your rights were violated and that you were a victim of false arrest, malicious prosecution or excessive force, you should speak with an attorney as soon as possible. These cases are complicated and can be difficult to prove, especially since they are being brought against police officers. To speak with an experienced attorney who represents people in Miami and throughout the state of Florida in claims involving civil rights violations, contact Baron & Herskowitz today.