New Jersey and New York citizens are granted ample civil rights by statutes and the federal and state constitutions.
However, many of our fellow neighbors have their rights trampled on by aggressive or malicious government employees, agencies, or municipalities.
If your rights have been violated, we can help. There are federal and state laws that allow you to hold government officials accountable when they violate your civil rights.
If successful, you can receive financial compensation to make up for damage inflicted upon you. Contact a New Jersey and New York civil rights lawyer at Kreizer Law today for more information.
People are free to enjoy their physical liberty without restraint, and police officers cannot detain someone without sufficient probable cause. Probable cause does not exist unless an officer has facts and circumstances in their knowledge that support a belief that a person has committed, or will commit, a crime.
False arrests can occur in a variety of situations, but some of the more common include:
- Police racially profile people and include them as suspects solely because of their race
- Police want to harass people, such as people filming them
- Police arrest someone under a defective bench warrant
Review the circumstances of your arrest with a civil rights lawyer in New Jersey.
Wrongful convictions frequently make the news, and the details can be shocking. Many defendants were railroaded by prosecutors using made up or nonexistent evidence. Biased and racially discriminatory juries often rubber stamp whatever the prosecutor requests.
In some situations, prosecutors even withheld evidence that showed the defendant’s innocence, all of which comes out only years or decades later. Many wrongfully convicted people have obtained millions of dollars from the state in compensation.
There is an inherent power imbalance in an interrogation room, and it is not surprising that a high number of confessions are false. Suspects might confess for a variety of reasons, such as police coercion, intimidation, violence, threats, or out of ignorance of their rights. Police cannot physically coerce a confession or use more subtle techniques such as denying food, water, or medical treatment to get a person to incriminate himself.
Unlawful Search and Seizure
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects all people in the country from “unreasonable” searches and seizures. When officers do not have probable cause or permission to search your home or arrest you, then they might have deprived you of your constitutional right to privacy.
Police searches can be particularly destructive, with police rummaging and ransacking someone’s home out of pure malice.
The law gives police leeway to protect themselves and the public in dangerous situations that require split-second decision making. However, when the police cross the line and use excessive force, victims can sue them for a civil rights violation. Police have been sued when they use guns, tasers, and pepper spray in situations where it is clearly unreasonable to do so.
Free Speech & Protest
No right is more central to democracy than the right of free speech. Yet government officials often conspire to limit or suppress speech and protest, especially when the point of view expressed is politically unpopular.
Government officials can limit protest to a reasonable time and place, but they cannot discriminate based on the content of the speech. If you are unfairly denied a permit, for example, you can sue. You might also have a First Amendment claim if police arrest you solely because of your views.
Strip searches are highly invasive and for that reason are allowed only in limited circumstances. In particular, police must have reasonable suspicion that you are hiding a weapon on contraband under your clothes. Police can’t have merely a “hunch” or guess that you are hiding something; they need articulable facts to support their belief. Inside prison or jail, police have more leeway to perform a strip search, but the search must still be tied to reasonable objectives.
Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871
It’s hard to sue the government. Agencies and municipalities often enjoy immunity from suit, leaving innocent victims without a remedy. Fortunately, Section 1983 of the 1871 Civil Rights Act makes it illegal for someone acting in an official capacity to deprive a person of their civil rights. Victims can sue for monetary compensation.
This is a complicated area of law, and you would benefit from the help of a New Jersey civil rights lawyer. Generally, to make a Section 1983 claim you must allege:
- The person you are suing was “acting under color of law.” In effect, the defendant must have been a representative of the state in some capacity. You can’t use 1983 to sue a private citizen, like your neighbor who is a dentist. You also can’t use Section 1983 to sue the state of New Jersey, but you might be able to use it to sue a municipality or other local government unit.
- The defendant deprived you of a right secured by the U.S. Constitution or federal law.
New Jersey Civil Rights Act
Section 1983 is a powerful remedy, but it doesn’t protect against violation of New Jersey law or our state’s constitution. That’s where the New Jersey Civil Rights Act comes in. It is modeled on section 1983, and courts will interpret it similarly.
Many rights are found in both the state and federal constitutions, in which case you might bring a claim under both 1983 and the New Jersey Civil Rights Act. Contact a civil rights attorney in New Jersey for more information.
Have Your Civil Rights Been Violated? Speak with Kreizer Law Today
Both the federal and state governments have given people a powerful weapon to protect their rights by granting them the ability to sue for compensation when government officials trample all over them. If you believe a government official is harming you, please contact Kreizer Law today.
Our civil rights lawyers in New Jersey and New York have helped many people vindicate their rights in court. We are prepared to represent all clients who have been stripped of their rights, even “unpopular” clients who do not draw favorable press because they are suspected of being criminals.
For more information, please contact our law firm or call our toll free (833) 4KreizerLaw – that’s (833-457-3493). We offer a free, confidential consultation which you can schedule by calling or sending us an online message.