Police officers pledge their oath to serve and protect their community, but that doesn't give them immunity from the law. When police abuse their power, victims have the right to file civil suits against their department.
Civil rights attorneys are invaluable when filing a Section 1983 suit, which seeks damages for the violation of rights protected under either state or federal law.
1. File a Complaint
Individuals who believe their civil rights have been violated by police can file a complaint with the department and sue for violation, possibly on grounds such as any of those listed in the Bill of Rights or constitutional guarantees, as well as emotional distress claims.
Civil suits typically seek money damages for victims who have experienced violations to their civil rights. This can provide much-needed financial relief by covering medical costs and paying for therapy sessions or classes to enhance lives while sending the message that such behavior won't be accepted in society.
Filing a police complaint promptly following an incident will ensure all relevant evidence is gathered, while also giving officers involved time to respond and respond before filing civil suits; civil suit standards of proof are much lower than criminal ones and only preponderance of evidence needs to show that your rights were violated.
2. Gather Evidence
Civil rights violations are among the top reasons people sue police departments, often for things such as unlawful searches and seizures, unlawful arrests, excessive force use during arrests, racial profiling and more. Emotional distress could also be grounds for litigation against officers; no job should require traumatizing people as part of its job duties.
If your civil rights have been violated by police officers, it's essential that evidence be gathered as soon as possible in order to help your attorney build a solid case for your claim. Start by writing down what happened as soon as it occurs; this will help keep memories fresh when giving them to your lawyer later on. Ideally, try and gather video footage of the event; especially useful if seeking compensation for emotional distress as the footage can show how an officer misbehaved.
3. Hire a Lawyer
Finding the ideal way to sue police for civil rights violations requires finding a specialized civil rights attorney. They will be able to advise whether it is possible for you to sue an individual officer or the entire department and also advise whether the statute of limitations has passed.
Civil rights violations by police officers come in various forms, with police brutality and false arrests being the most frequent violations. Other instances could involve evidence tampering and fraud as well. Legal actions to address police abuse of power can provide justice while sending a strong message that such behaviors won't be tolerated by society.
If you plan on filing a civil suit against a police department, be certain to be honest with your lawyer in order for them to build the strongest possible case for you.
4. File a Lawsuit
When police violate your civil rights, there are several options for legal recourse available to you. Serious instances of misconduct like excessive force or false arrest often lead to criminal suits that may then be followed up with civil damages suits against specific officers or departments. Civil suits also exist against violations like racial profiling and brutality which could potentially involve civil suits against specific officers or entire departments.
Your attorney must then file a Summons and Complaint with the court against those you allege have violated your civil rights, detailing all your allegations as well as the specific laws which may have been broken, giving them twenty or thirty days to respond to it.
Litigating against police can be a complex and intimidating process that needs the expertise of an attorney. Contact Linden Law today for a consultation and learn how to hold them accountable and receive any damages that you are due.