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Asserting Your Civil Rights: Section 1983 Claims

This content about civil rights was written by a third party and does not represent the views or opinions of Haddad & Sherwin LLP, nor should it be construed as a complete and accurate statement of the law or as legal advice.  For better information about this topic, please contact Haddad & Sherwin LLP.

Section 1983 provides protection to people’s rights in situations of police misconduct. This statute is part of the Civil Rights Act of 1871, which was approved by Congress to defend individuals from racial violence and unfairness occurring after the Civil War finished.

Section 1983 states that “Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress”.

The previous text indicates that if someone vested with state governmental authority violates an individual’s civil rights, they may be held responsible in a court of justice. These rights include:

    • Freedom of the press, free speech, freedom of religion, and the right to peacefully assemble; stated in the First Amendment.
    • Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.
    • Legal representation and other rights of the defendant expressed in the Sixth Amendment.
    • Protection against cruel and unusual punishment asserted in the Eighth Amendment.
  • Due process of law stated in the Fourteenth Amendment. 

A Section 1983 Claim for Police Misconduct

If there has been an infringement of your civil rights through police misconduct, you may sue individuals who behaved under the color of state law. According to yourdictionary.com, the color of law refers to “The conduct of a police officer, judge, or another person clothed with governmental authority that, although it superficially appears to be within the individual’s lawful power, is actually in contravention of the law”.

In order to file a claim under section 1983, you must show that the illegal activity happened under the color of state law, which means the unlawful conduct had to be performed by state or local officials, including employees of the state, city, county, or other local governments; also, people who acted together with these public servants may be accused. Additionally, you need to demonstrate that, because of this illicit conduct, you were divested of your rights.

If you obtain a favorable outcome of your police misconduct claim under Section 1983, you may receive compensation for the deprivation of your civil rights. The remedies that usually result from this legal action are monetary damages and injunctive relief. The latter is a court order that prevents unlawful behavior from happening again.

Haddad & Sherwin LLP has a long, successful track record winning wrongful death and other serious civil rights claims for police and jail officer misconduct, throughout Northern and Central California.  Call or email us for a free consultation.

This content about civil rights was written by a third party and does not represent the views or opinions of Haddad & Sherwin LLP, nor should it be construed as a complete and accurate statement of the law or as legal advice.  For better information about this topic, please contact Haddad & Sherwin LLP.