What Constitutes a Civil Rights Violation?

police car

If your civil rights were violated by law enforcement personnel, you may have grounds for a claim. While taking action won’t erase the trauma you’ve experienced, it could yield the funds needed to put your life back together in the wake of the incident.

In order to pursue a payout, you’ll have to prove that your rights were, in fact, violated. While every case is unique, all plaintiffs must demonstrate the following elements to initiate a claim under the Civil Rights Act of 1871:

1. A Law Enforcement Officer Violated Your Rights

The United States Constitution grants citizens protection from:

  • Illegal searches and seizures;
  • Police brutality;
  • Unlawful arrests;
  • Wrongful convictions;
  • Retaliation following whistleblowing; and
  • Discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, or religion.

Citizens are also granted freedom of speech. That means you cannot be prosecuted for expressing your opinions or assembling peaceably. Various state statutes grant additional rights, as well.

The foundation of every successful civil rights claim is evidence that a violation actually occurred. This evidence must prove the offender’s conduct deprived you of a constitutional right, a statutory right, or applicable immunity.

The strongest evidence will depend on the facts of the case, but it will likely include some combination of the following:

  • The police report;
  • Photographs or video footage of the interaction;
  • Statements from eyewitnesses;
  • Journal entries;
  • Medical records; and
  • The depositions of those who were involved and/or who handled the misconduct after the fact.

2. The Offender Was on Duty at the Time

The individual who violated your rights must have been acting as a representative of the law when the incident occurred. If the municipality was informed of the incident but failed to report it or do anything to stop it, you may have grounds for a claim against them, as well, for their own misconduct.

What Kinds of Damages Can You Recover by Filing a Civil Rights Claim?

It’s important to remember that just because you have grounds for a claim doesn’t mean you’re automatically entitled to a payout. If your case does prove successful, though, you may be able to recover compensation for virtually all the damages you incurred as a result of the violation.

Examples include medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Additionally, your spouse may be entitled to funds for loss of consortium, which encompasses the loss of love, companionship, comfort, and support that he or she incurred because of the offender’s misconduct.

You’ll have to prove that you actually suffered these damages, however, before you can recover them. As such, make sure to save all relevant bills, records, and receipts, and keep a detailed journal in which you write about the ways the violation has impacted your everyday life.

Discus Your Claim with a Civil Rights Lawyer in Jackson  

If your rights were violated during an encounter with law enforcement personnel, contact Brown, Bass & Jeter, PLLC. Our tenacious team isn’t afraid to take on government agencies, and we have the knowledge, experience, and resources to achieve success in court. Call 601-487-8448 or fill out our Contact Form to schedule a free consultation with a civil rights attorney in Jackson.

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