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Racial Profiling and Police Misconduct

This content about police misconduct 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.

There are situations where police officers suspect that someone has committed a crime based solely on the color of their skin. If the officials stop and perform a search on this person, then we are in the presence of racial profiling.

As stated in aclu.org, the term racial profiling “refers to the discriminatory practice by law enforcement officials of targeting individuals for suspicion of crime based on the individual’s race, ethnicity, religion or national origin. Criminal profiling, generally, as practiced by police, is the reliance on a group of characteristics they believe to be associated with crime”.

There are actions of police misconduct where racial profiling may arise, such as traffic stops, car searches, pedestrian stops, and body frisks. Some examples of racial profiling related actions are the following:

  • The police stop a vehicle due to the ethnicity of the person behind the wheel.
  • A law enforcement official restrains a vehicle’s conductor based only on the belief that the individual doesn’t belong in a particular part of town.
  • An officer detains the driver of a car because the agent thinks it’s not likely that an individual of their race is the owner of a particular model of vehicle.

How the Law Protects you from Racial Profiling

Racial violations go against your constitutional and civil rights. The Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. Additionally, the Fourteenth Amendment establishes the guarantee of equal protection before the law.

The prohibition of racial profiling in California is expressed in its Penal Code on Section 13519.4, which states that “A peace officer shall not engage in racial or identity profiling”. It also recognizes that this act of police misconduct “is a practice that presents a great danger to the fundamental principles of our Constitution and a democratic society. It is abhorrent and cannot be tolerated”.

There is a scenario where the police are legally authorized to make a stop using race as a factor. This situation occurs when they are looking for a suspect with specific features and this characteristic is part of the description.

If you believe your civil rights have been violated by racial profiling practices, you may file a claim against the wrongdoers and receive monetary damages, or obtain another remedy, like injunctive relief, which has the intention to prevent the illegal action.

In case of racial profiling or any other action police misconduct, it is important to find a legal advisor that guides you during the legal process you need to go through to assert your civil rights, find justice, and obtain a positive outcome.

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 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.