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Civil Rights Claims

Protecting the rights of the people

For purposes of this overview, civil rights can generally be thought of as constitutional rights, that is, rights that are protected by the United States Constitution. This would be things like the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures; the right to equal protection under the law; and the right to free speech.

In the criminal setting, these rights are enforceable through the ordinary criminal process. For example, if a police officer conducts an unconstitutional search of someone and finds incriminating evidence, that evidence may be suppressed at trial because the police officer acted unconstitutionally.

Over time, Congress recognized that citizens also needed a private (civil) way to enforce their constitutional rights. After all, not every case proceeds all the way to a criminal trial. Congress took action by passing legislation.

The most commonly used law for enforcing civil rights is 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This law is pretty straightforward—if a state or local government employee uses their government position to violate a citizen’s constitutional rights, the citizen can file a lawsuit. The citizen can recover damages (money) and, in some cases, their attorney’s fees, thereby encouraging private enforcement of this law. 

Civil rights claims come in a lot of shapes and sizes, including claims involving police officer misconduct (excessive force), gender or race discrimination in public employment (equal protection), and restricting speech (free speech). Sometimes, these constitutional claims can even be joined with other civil rights claims that are protected by other laws (e.g., laws that prohibit employment discrimination).

If Your Civil Rights Have been violated, You may be entitled to compensation

Cronauer Law aggressively advocates for the rights of our clients whose civil rights have been violated. We guide clients through the stressful and difficult task of rebuilding their lives after being unjustly injured by someone acting under the authority of the Government. Contact Cronauer Law today for a free consultation.

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