Gresham Civil Rights Lawyer
The Constitution of the United States is what makes this country the land of the free. We pride ourselves on having certain freedoms, including the right to stand up for what we believe and protest against the federal and state government and the actions of those acting under the authority of the government. However, when your rights are violated by police officers and other people with government authority, you may feel helpless and unsure of what to do.
Our qualified attorneys at Rizk Law understand what you are going through, and we are here to help. Our team of compassionate attorneys is committed to fighting for the justice that is rightfully owed to you. We strongly believe that government officials or police officers who abuse their power should be held accountable for their unlawful actions. If you were mistreated by police officers, lost a loved one in a police shooting, were prohibited from exercising your free speech rights, or were injured in prison due to the actions of guards or other authority figures, you may have grounds for a civil rights claim.
Contact a Gresham civil rights lawyer at Rizk Law today for a free case evaluation. We will review your case and walk you through your legal options. You are not obligated to take legal action after we evaluate your situation.
Schedule your free, no obligation legal consultation today.
Examples of Civil Rights Cases We Handle
Some of the most common civil rights cases involve actions by law enforcement that violate civil rights. Even though we trust them to protect us and believe we are in good hands, they sometimes abuse their power or make the wrong decisions in a crisis and citizens suffer injury or death.
Police shootings of unarmed African-Americans triggered the Black Lives Matter movement, which regularly holds protests and speaks out about systemic racism, particularly in the criminal justice system, including racial profiling and police brutality.
Unfortunately, there is statistical evidence that may point to racial discrimination in our beloved Beaver state. In 2017, 10.9 percent of African-American drivers were stopped by police. This is a very high percentage considering just 2.2 percent of the population of Portland is African-American. A disproportionately high number of African-Americans have been getting pulled over by the police in Portland for several years. In 2013, African-Americans accounted for 12.8 percent of all traffic stops.
Racial discrimination is just one example of police misconduct that violates civil rights. In March 2018, the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon filed six lawsuits against the Portland Police Bureau alleging police brutality against protesters in several different demonstrations in 2017. The lawsuits claim police improperly used force to subdue or detain protestors, knocked protestors to the ground without warning, and struck a female protestor with a baton several times without an explanation.
These actions could all be considered violations of the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which outlaws cruel and unusual punishment. Police officers can also violate the Fourth Amendment by searching you or taking your property without probable cause. If the police decide to start criminal proceedings against you without probable cause, it may be a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibiting citizens from being deprived of life, liberty or property without being given due process.
Mistreatment of Incarcerated Individuals
Prisoners have rights too and are protected by the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which protects them from cruel and unusual punishment. Prisoners are also supposed to be free to practice their religion, exercise freedom of speech and have access to the courts and legal counsel. Prisoners are also entitled to receive adequate medical care, food and basic necessities, disability accommodations, and live free from sexual harassment or other sex crimes. Oregon prisoners also have the right to transfer to another state if they meet certain criteria.
The government, including prisons and the officials who run them, is responsible for the safety of prisoners. If they are injured or deprived of their rights, such as by being physically assaulted, sexually abused, or denied medical care, government officials may be held accountable.
Seizure of Your Property
The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects you from unreasonable seizures. An unreasonable seizure is one that occurs without probable cause.
One controversial type of seizure is called civil asset forfeiture, which refers to law enforcement or government agencies taking property that is linked to some kind of illegal activity. In Oregon, people must be convicted of crimes before their property can be seized by the government or law enforcement.
Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 131A.255 says forfeiting agencies must prove the conviction, and that the property is:
- Proceeds for a crime the person was convicted of
- Something that was used to commit the crime the person has been convicted of
- Proceeds of other crimes similar to the one that resulted in a conviction
- Something used to commit one or more crimes similar to the one that resulted in a conviction
Before current laws went into effect, Oregon laws on civil asset forfeiture changed multiple times. Under a ballot measure that was passed in 2008 by voters, law enforcement officers are allowed to seize property even if the owner has not been convicted of a crime. This ballot measure overturned existing law that required a criminal conviction before property could be seized.
In 2017, the Gresham Police Department conducted 36 seizures. The value of the property seized was $268,013.04. The police used these funds for a variety of expenses, such as motor vehicle repair and maintenance, equipment in the narcotics processing room, drug detection equipment, and for undercover surveillance equipment.
Seizure of Marijuana in The Beaver State
Some people may wrongly believe marijuana cannot be seized by law enforcement because Oregon allows personal and medicinal use of this substance with certain exceptions. However, while voters in Oregon approved some marijuana use via a 2014 ballot measure, this drug is still illegal under federal law.
Federal law treats marijuana just like cocaine and heroin, which means the government does not consider this drug to have any medical value. The government also considers the drug to be highly addictive.
This means marijuana businesses and individuals who cultivate or possess this substance could have it seized by the federal government. (The drug and assets from the sale of it could also potentially be seized by law enforcement agencies in the state if you violate state laws on the amount you can possess.)
There may have been less fear about marijuana-related prosecutions under President Obama. However, one year after President Trump came into office, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded a memo from the previous administration's justice department telling federal prosecutors they should generally not get in the way of state marijuana legalization laws.
The budget passed by Congress in March 2018 contained a section saying that the funds made available in the budget could not be used by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to prevent states with medicinal marijuana laws from implementing those laws. However, this leaves open the possibility of the DOJ preventing states from implementing recreational marijuana laws.
Marijuana businesses should be very careful to follow all state laws and be careful who they get involved with as far as obtaining this substance. You may want to avoid getting involved with large-scale growers because they could end up violating federal or state law. You should also make sure to purchase the product from registered dispensaries.
If you believe your civil rights have been violated by the police or your loved one is being mistreated in prison, seek out legal advice from our compassionate attorneys at Rizk Law. Our Gresham civil rights lawyers will help you stand up for the rights you are owed under federal and state law.
We will fully investigate your case and determine the best legal strategy for pursuing justice and compensation. We want you to receive the fair compensation you are entitled for things like:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Property damage to your place of residence, vehicle, or other damaged belongings
- Pain from the injury
- Mental suffering
- Mental distress
- Lost quality of life
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Laws That Apply to Civil Rights Lawsuits
Civil rights violations are serious invasions of your constitutional rights. You do not have to stand by and do nothing about it because you feel you have no control or voice in the situation. You have the right to take legal action due to the federal and state laws below.
Section 1983 – Civil Rights Act of 1871
Section 1983, technically called the Civil Rights Act of 1871, is a federal statute (42 U.S.C. § 1983) that allows individuals to file lawsuits against the government if their civil rights are violated by any individual who acts under color of federal, state or local laws, ordinances or regulations. Plaintiffs have the burden of proof of establishing another individual was acting under color of state law and deprived them of their civil rights.
Acting under color of law means an individual is a government employee who was performing a government function, even if he or she exceeded the authority given to him or her. In the case of a police officer, if the officer was on duty, wearing a police uniform, and identified himself or herself as an officer when your civil rights were violated, you may have grounds for a Section 1983 lawsuit.
Oregon Tort Claims Act
The Oregon Tort Claims Act (Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) 30.265) allows individuals to file a personal injury claim against a government employee or agency acting within the scope of his or her employment duties. The Oregon Tort Claims Act partially waives sovereign immunity, a legal doctrine that allows the state to be immune from civil liability due to harm caused by the government’s misconduct or negligence. This means you can file a lawsuit for your personal injury, damage or destruction of your property, or the wrongful death of a loved one caused by the actions of a government agency or employee.
Statute of Limitations for Oregon Civil Rights Claims
If you believe your rights have been violated, you should take legal action as soon as possible to help ensure you do not lose the right to do so. If the applicable statute of limitations passes before you file a claim, you will no longer have the right to do so.
The statute of limitations for the Tort Claims Act is 180 days, if you are seeking compensation for personal injury or property loss. If you are filing a wrongful death lawsuit, you must do so within one year of the alleged loss or injury.
There is no statute of limitations written in Section 1983 of federal law. However, courts have held that the relevant statute of limitations in the state where the claim is being filed may apply. In Oregon, the personal injury statute of limitations is two years from the date of the situation that caused your injury.
It is difficult to handle these kinds of cases alone and ensure everything is filed before the statute of limitations passes. You should consider contacting a qualified Gresham civil rights lawyer to discuss your legal options. Our attorneys at Rizk Law can help determine potential bases for suing and initiate the discovery phase to gather witnesses and other crucial evidence that will help your case.
Fill out our Free Case Review form today.
The First Amendment and Its Exceptions
If a government agency or official, at the local, state or federal level, violated your rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, our Gresham civil rights attorneys may be able to take legal action.
The First Amendment provides for the freedom of speech, which includes freedom of expression. Americans are also granted the right to assemble peaceably and petition the government about their grievances. Residents of Oregon are not shy about exercising these rights, as we have seen in recent years.
One of the advantages to living in Oregon when it comes to free speech rights is that we have some of the broadest free speech protections in the nation. While some other states prohibit the possession and dissemination of obscene materials, Oregon allows any expression even if it is considered as generally or universally obscene.
The text of Oregon's free speech law, which was passed with the constitution in 1859, says the state government cannot pass a law restricting your right to speak, write or print on any subject. This right was cemented in 1987 in a case involving an adult bookstore. The Oregon Supreme Court ruled that an anti-obscenity statute violated the state's free speech law.
Unfortunately, the government does not always honor these rights and even takes actions that infringe on the exercise of these rights. For example, the government could restrict you from protesting in a certain place, and this might violate the freedoms given to you under the First Amendment. The government could place limits on what you can say at a protest, or the time you can show up to protest.
However, there are various exceptions to the First Amendment, allowing the government to restrict certain kinds of speech. For example, you cannot defame someone else verbally or in written communication. You also cannot use speech to directly threaten another individual or group with physical harm.
It is difficult to fully understand the rights, and exceptions to those rights, you are granted under the First Amendment of the Constitution. That is why it is beneficial to seek legal advice from a knowledgeable Gresham civil rights attorney about what happened and whether you can take legal action.
Call us at Rizk Law today at 503.245.5677 to get started on your case.
Contact a Qualified Gresham Civil Rights Lawyer Right Away
You deserve fair treatment and to have your rights and privileges respected. If you believe any of your fundamental civil rights have been violated by police or a government official, contact a compassionate civil rights lawyer at Rizk Law today. We strongly believe that police and government officials who abuse their power should face consequences and victims should receive the compensation and remedies they deserve.
Do not be afraid to stand up to your rights. Our knowledgeable Gresham civil rights lawyers will ensure that your case is handled with care and work tirelessly to pursue the compensation you deserve.
Let us help you seek justice by calling 503.245.5677.