Civil Rights claims fall under Section 1983, and is the primary avenue for victims of police misconduct. Section 1983 makes it unlawful for anyone acting under the authority of state law to deprive another person of his or her rights under the Constitution or promulgated federal law.
The most common claims brought against police officers are false arrest (or false imprisonment), malicious prosecution, and use of excessive or unreasonable force. Another aspect of these claims we need to be aware of is the concept of qualified immunity. Because it is the first roadblock to any Civil Rights claim against a police officer, lets begin our discussion there.
What is Qualified Immunity?
Incidents where a private citizen’s constitutional rights are violated by police officers happen with relative frequency here in Texas. You here about it all the time in the news and the attorneys here at Guest and Gray know this because we see it in our practice. Here at Guest and Gray, many of our clients facing criminal charges are quite often subjected to constitutional violations during their arrest or the investigatory stop that led to their arrest. Constitutional violations occur in many ways, but due to increased news coverage of such violations, police officers around the country are experiencing increased scrutiny related to their alleged excessive use of force, and for good reason.
If you feel like your rights have been violated, then you need to know what your options are and where you can turn for help.
One of the many common complaints is that the police officer used too much force, or “excessive force” during the stop. So, what is “excessive force”? The phrase “excessive force” is often used to refer to people who have had an incident with the police where the police officer, or officers, used more force than necessary and it caused you harm.