Many people have been wronged by the police in some way. However, they don’t necessarily know if their civil rights have been violated. As I talked about in another article on this blog, 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 allows a citizen to sue the police for violations of their civil rights under the U.S. Constitution. Police misconduct brutality and misconduct lawyers like myself use Section 1983 to get justice and compensation for people who have been wronged and brutalized by police officers.

There are many kinds of legal claims that can be filed in a lawsuit when the police have brutalized you or violated your rights. However, as a Chicago civil rights attorney, I’ve found that the following are the most common types of legal claims that are brought against police officers for police brutality and misconduct.

5 Most Common Police Misconduct & Brutality Violations

  1. Excessive Force: The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. That means that the police cannot use more force than necessary to take a person into custody. To put it more plainly, the police cannot hit, strike, injure, shoot, or kill someone for no reason. This is what is often meant by the term “police brutality.” Excessive force claims against police officers are common in cities like Chicago that have a long track record of the police brutalizing its Black citizens.
  2. False Arrest: The Fourth Amendment also protects citizens from unreasonable seizures/arrests. The police must have probable cause before arresting someone. This means that the police cannot arrest someone and then go and find the evidence to justify the earlier arrest. Often times police officers will arrest someone and take them to the police station based on a hunch or belief that someone did something wrong. This is not enough to arrest someone. If this has happened to you or someone you know, you should consult with an experienced civil rights and police misconduct attorney to advise you of whether the police violated your rights and whether you have a basis to bring a lawsuit.
  3. Denial of Medical Care: The police must provide medical care and attention to someone in their custody that is injured or requesting medical help. The law says that because the police have temporarily deprived someone of their freedom by arresting or detaining them, they must also ensure that persons safety while in custody and that includes providing medical care when needed. Many times people die in police custody because the police were not properly supervising the individual or the person requested medical help and the police denied their request. Denial of medical care claims are some of the most serious civil rights violations because they can lead to serious injury or death.
  4. Unlawful Searches: Another protection of the Fourth Amendment is that it protects citizens from having their homes searched without a warrant or some other legal justification by the police. The law says that if the police don’t have a warrant to enter you home and they instead ask you for permission to come in and search, you can so no. People often waive their right to say no and allow the police to enter their home. This can have very bad consequences. Once the police have permission to enter your home, anything they find that might be illegal or that could lead to a arrest can be used against you or your loved one. Therefore, it is always best to say no to any requests to enter and search your home. In the event that the police enter your home and they didn’t have a warrant, legal justification, or your consent, you should contact an experienced police brutality and misconduct attorney immediately to discuss whether you can file a lawsuit against the police for unlawfully entering and searching your home.
  5. Malicious Prosecution: The police cannot make up facts and lie in court to get a person convicted. False arrest and malicious prosecution go hand in hand sometimes. However, malicious prosecution is somewhat different, because it means that not only did the police not have probable cause to arrest you but they continued with the prosecution knowing that a you were innocent of the crime and in many instances lied in court to get the person convicted. Before bringing a malicious prosecution claim the case against a person must have ended in a not guilty verdict or in some other way that indicates the person was innocent.

What to do if the police violated your rights or brutalized you?

If you believe you’ve been the victim of police brutality or misconduct and your rights were violated you should immediately contact an attorney who specializes in police brutality and misconduct cases. As an attorney in Chicago that handles only police brutality and misconduct cases, I have seen many times when people wait to late too call me and they are unable to bring a lawsuit.

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