Civil Rights: Police and the Criminal Justice System

For many people, one of their greatest fears is being stopped by a police officer or—worse yet—getting arrested and going to jail or prison. Sadly, there are times when these encounters result in unfair treatment, baseless arrests and charges, police brutality, harassment…or worse. That is why it is so important for people to understand their rights before they have an encounter with the cops.

All people residing in the United States are guaranteed certain civil rights by the U.S. Constitution. When people have encounters with police officers, police detectives or investigators, prosecutors, or detention/corrections officers in jail or prison, most of these rights arise from the Fourth, Eighth, or Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution. Congress has provided a way to sue government officials when these Constitutional rights are violated. This “way” appears in the United States Code at 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which is commonly referred to as “Section 1983.”

What follows is a list of some of the many types of Section 1983 claims that can arise from an encounter with police and the criminal justice system:

  • Unlawful stop by a police officer
  • Unlawful arrest by a police officer
  • Unlawful search by a police officer
  • Malicious prosecution by a police officer, detective, investigator or prosecutor
  • Excessive force by a police officer on an arrestee
  • Excessive force by a jail detention officer on a pre-trial detainee
  • Excessive force by a jail or prison detention officer on a convicted prisoner
  • Pre-trial detainee alleging unlawful detention for not being released from jail within a reasonable time after posting bond
  • Arrestee alleging failure to intervene to stop an act of excessive force by another officer
  • Pre-trial detainee alleging failure to intervene to stop an act of excessive force by another officer
  • Convicted prisoner alleging failure to intervene to stop an act of excessive force by another officer
  • Pre-trial detainee alleging deliberate indifference to a serious medical need
  • Convicted prisoner alleging deliberate indifference to a serious medical need
  • Pre-trial detainee alleging failure to protect him/her from inmate violence
  • Convicted prisoner alleging failure to protect him/her from inmate violence

SMITH LAW has litigated and successfully resolved numerous Section 1983 cases against Clayton County, DeKalb County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, Rockdale County, the City of Atlanta, and the State of Georgia/Georgia Department of Corrections. Here are some examples of Section 1983 cases litigated by SMITH LAW:

  • An arrestee who was kicked in the face by an arresting officer
  • Pre-trial detainees who were tased or pepper-sprayed by detention officers
  • An arrestee who was shot twice by an arresting officer
  • A convicted prisoner who had severe diabetes and whose toe fell off because he was ignored by prison medical staff
  • An arrestee whose door was kicked in by police who did not have a search warrant
  • An arrestee who was arrested in an acquaintance’s apartment for refusing to open the apartment door for police although the resident did not grant him permission to do so
  • An arrestee who was arrested in nothing but a bath robe and had her intimate parts exposed for an extended period
  • An arrestee who was tripped and slammed to the ground by a police officer because he put his hands behind his back too slowly
  • An arrestee whose head was slammed into the ground by a police officer after being stopped for a minor traffic violation

SMITH LAW has the experience and expertise to handle your Section 1983 case. Contact SMITH LAW for a free case evaluation.