Hillsboro Civil Rights Lawyer
One of the benefits of being an American citizen is you have certain rights and civil liberties under federal and state law. One civil liberty many people are familiar with is freedom of speech, press and assembly, which is explained in the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment. The problem is these rights are often violated by people with power like police officers, prison guards and other government officials or entities. If you were injured, lost a loved one as a result of a civil rights violation, or your civil rights were infringed in a way that did not cause physical injury, it is important to know you may have legal options.
Our compassionate attorneys at Rizk Law understand that this is a difficult situation to face alone. Our team of qualified attorneys is committed to seeking justice for the damages you or your loved one suffered. We strongly believe that those who violated your civil rights should be held accountable. Contact our Hillsboro civil rights lawyers today for a free, no obligation consultation and we will be able to review your case and you can find out if we can assist you. If you have a case and want to pursue it, we can walk your through all the steps in the legal process.
We are here to help. Schedule your free consultation today.
Civil Rights Laws: Section 1983
The Civil Rights Act of 1871 (42 U.S.C. § 1983), commonly referred to as Section 1983, is a federal statute that gives citizens the right to sue the government for violations of their civil rights, which are rights, privileges or immunities secured by the U.S. Constitution and laws. You may be able to file a Section 1983 lawsuit if the individual who violated your rights acted "under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, usage, custom, of any state or territory."
“Under color of” means the wrongdoer qualified as a representative of the state when the deprivation of the victim’s civil rights took place. This means any person who misuses his or her authority granted to him or her under state law could be held liable for the effects of his or her actions.
Certain factors can determine whether the defendant was acting under the color of state law. These factors include:
- The defendant was on duty at the time the violation occurred.
- The defendant was wearing a police uniform.
- The defendant used police equipment such as handcuffs or a squad car.
- The defendant identified himself or herself with a badge or claimed to be an officer.
- The defendant carried out an arrest.
Some notable examples of actions that could give rise to Section 1983 claims include:
- Violations of the Fourth Amendment: The Fourth Amendment protects you from unreasonable searches and seizures of property by government officials. Examples of violations of the Fourth Amendment governed by Section 1983 could include searching you or your car or other property without a proper warrant or confiscating your property without probable cause.
- Violation of the Eighth Amendment: This amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. Possible examples of cruel and unusual punishment could include failure to provide medical care to prisoners, use of excessive force by corrections officers and sexual abuse.
- Violations of the Fourteenth Amendment: The law says no state can make a law depriving citizens of life, liberty or property without due process of law. An example of a violation of this amendment is when police intentionally and wrongfully initiate criminal proceedings against someone. You must show police lacked probably cause to initiate criminal proceedings.
If you believe your civil rights were violated by law enforcement officers, you should consider contacting a qualified civil rights lawyer to discuss your legal options. Our attorneys at Rizk Law can explain your options, help you determine the potential basis for taking legal action and initiate the discovery phase to gather witnesses and other crucial evidence that will help your case.
Types of Civil Rights Violations
As citizens, we trust that our government and those acting under the authority of our government will not violate our civil rights. Unfortunately, sometimes police officers and government officials do not respect the civil rights granted to citizens under federal and state law. The United States is no stranger to government or police discrimination, especially when minorities like African-Americans and Hispanics are involved.
Oregon has a notorious history of African-American mistreatment, dating back to the wagon era. In 1844, the first black exclusion law was introduced by provisional government, mandating that African-Americans attempting to settle in Oregon would be publicly whipped with 39 lashes every six months for as long as they resided in the state. The laws were repealed but the concept remained clear. The Oregon constitution of 1857 banned slavery but excluded African-Americans from residing in the state.
The urban area of Portland has one of the highest per-capita concentrations of Caucasians of any large city in the U.S. Although African-Americans make up just 2.2 percent of the population in Oregon, police stopped 10.9 percent of Portland's African-American drivers in 2017.
Traffic stops are just one situation where the civil rights of Oregon citizens can be violated by law enforcement. Some of the most common types of civil rights violations perpetrated by law enforcement include the following:
One of the most shocking forms of police misconduct is when someone is wrongfully killed by police. This is why police officers must be very careful when using deadly force.
Sadly, Hillsboro is no stranger to the use of deadly force by police officers. On March 11, 2018, a 20-year-old man was shot and killed by police in his home. Officers had been called in to investigate a domestic disturbance. This person's death, like many others throughout the U.S., might have been avoided if police officers had acted differently.
Mistreatment of Prisoners
Prisoners' civil rights can be violated in a number of ways. They could be sexually abused by prison staff, injured by guards, deprived of basic medical care or necessities like food and water, or left in dangerous situations. The prison, guards or other staff members could be held liable if you or a loved one has been abused in a jail or prison in a way that violates the civil rights granted to you under federal or state law.
If you believe your civil rights have been violated, seek out legal advice from our compassionate attorneys at Rizk Law. Our Hillsboro civil rights lawyers will fully investigate your case and determine the best legal strategy for your case.
Schedule your free consultation today.
Civil Asset Forfeiture
Another civil rights issue is civil asset forfeiture, which occurs when a government agency confiscates assets or property alleged to be connected with a crime or illegal activity. The seized property is often sold and law enforcement profits from the sale. This helps create a dangerous motivation for law enforcement to police for profit. Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 131A.360(4) says law enforcement retains 62.5 percent of proceeds from seized property sales.
Fortunately, Oregon requires law enforcement agencies to secure a conviction before they can seize property. After obtaining a conviction, the agency must link the property to the crime to retain it. The agency must prove by a preponderance of evidence that the property is linked to the crime. If the owner wants to get the property back, the burden of proof is on the government to show why the owner is not entitled to the property. However, if the property is money or weapons found close to drugs, the burden is on the owner to prove by a preponderance of evidence that the property is not related to the crime.
Civil forfeiture is a huge concern for the legal marijuana industry in Oregon, which allows medical and personal use of marijuana, with certain restrictions. Businesses involved in the sale or distribution of this drug could be subject to civil forfeiture by federal law enforcement because use and distribution of the drug is still prohibited under federal law.
There is still confusion about when federal law enforcement may come in and shut down businesses or seize profits or assets because questions have been left unanswered by court cases and the U.S. Congress.
For example, the budget passed by Congress in March 2018 contained a provision barring the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) from using these funds to prevent 47 states, including Oregon, to implement laws on use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana. The language of this provision was interpreted by the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to mean the DOJ cannot prosecute individuals who comply with state medical marijuana laws. However, it is unclear if the DOJ can step in and prosecute if a business or individual commits a minor violation of state medical marijuana laws.
While it may be unlikely the DOJ will prosecute or seize assets of medical marijuana growers and businesses that follow state laws, they may step when the situation involves recreational marijuana or marijuana for personal use. This possibility was not addressed by Congress or the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
If you believe your civil rights has been violated, seek out legal advice from our compassionate attorneys at Rizk Law. Our Hillsboro civil rights lawyers will fully investigate your case and determine the best legal strategy for your case.
Schedule your free consultation today.
First Amendment Rights
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution grants four significant freedoms:
- Freedom of religion
- Freedom of speech and of the press
- Right to assemble (peaceful protests)
- Right to petition the government
The Supreme Court has outlined some exceptions to the rights enshrined in the First Amendment. Types of speech that are completely unprotected by the First Amendment include:
- Child pornography – There is no constitutional right to possess any material that depicts any sexual conduct involving children.
- Obscenity – This is speech that the average person thinks does not appeal to a prurient interest, lacks serious literary, artistic or scientific value, or describes sexual conduct in a patently offensive way.
- Fighting words – Speech that is meant to incite violence against a specific person or group is not protected by the First Amendment.
Free Speech Rights in Oregon
Here in the Beaver state, we are fortunate to have broader free speech rights than those described in the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution, thanks to our state's constitution and a state supreme court decision from 1987.
Section Eight of the Bill of Rights in the Oregon Constitution, which went into effect on February 14, 1859, “No law shall be passed restraining the free expression of opinion, or restricting the right to speak, write, or print freely on any subject whatever; but every person shall be responsible for the abuse of this right.”
In 1982, a 47-year-old man opened an adult bookstore in the state and was convicted of possessing obscene material and disseminating this material. Attorneys at the American Civil Liberties Union (A.C.L.U.) filed an appeal and argued the materials in question were protected under the freedom of speech law in the state constitution. The court eventually ruled state law protects expression that may be regarded as generally or universally obscene.
It can be difficult to understand what rights are protected under the First Amendment and Oregon’s Bill of Rights. It is important to seek legal help to fully understand your legal options if you believe your free speech rights were violated by the government. Our Hillsboro civil rights lawyers are ready to answer all your legal questions.
Call us at Rizk Law today at 503.245.5677.
Statute of Limitations
If you believe your civil rights have been violated, it is important that you take action right away because of the statute of limitations. In Oregon, personal injury lawsuits must be filed within two years from the date the incident occurred.
Oregon state law mandates that lawsuits against the government be accompanied by notice of the claim within 180 days of the alleged civil rights violation. The 180 day-period does not include the 90-day period after your injury if your injury prevents you from providing notice or you cannot provide notice because you are a minor or have been ruled incompetent. If you are bringing a wrongful death claim on behalf of a loved one, you must provide notice within one year of your loved one's death.
Dealing with a civil rights case on your own can be very difficult. That is why it is important to have a knowledgeable lawyer on your side. The Hillsboro civil rights lawyers at Rizk Law are equipped with the resources and legal knowledge to investigate and build a robust case. Contact us at Rizk Law today and we will be happy to guide you through the legal process.
Schedule your free consultation now.
Compensation Awarded to Victims
If your civil rights have been violated by government officials such as police officers, they can be held liable for depriving you of your rights. You may be able to seek compensation for damages, which could include:
- Medical expenses for your injuries
- Lost wages from the inability to work
- Property damage to place of residence, vehicle, or other belongings
- Pain and suffering
- Mental or emotional distress
The state of Oregon places a cap of $500,000 for non-economic damages, this means the value of damages that do not have a specific value attached, such as pain and suffering or mental distress, cannot exceed $500,000.
There is also a cap on compensation for legal claims filed under Oregon's Tort Claims Act. The State Court Administrator determines the cap each year, based on the OR-WA Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers for All Items. The cap was $2 million on actions that arose before July 1, 2015. This cap comes into play in legal claims against Oregon or employees or officers who act in the scope of their employment or job duties.
Our Hillsboro civil rights attorneys at Rizk Law will help you identify the damages you suffered and their fair value and will fight hard on your behalf to get you the compensation you deserve.
Fill out a Free Case Evaluation form to get started.
Contact a Hillsboro Civil Rights Lawyer at Rizk Law Today
If you believe you have been deprived of your civil rights and mistreated by government officials, do not hesitate to contact Rizk Law for legal guidance. We are here to answer all questions you may have regarding your civil rights case. We can defend your rights and fight for the compensation that is rightfully owed to you.
Our civil rights attorneys at Rizk Law have your best interests in mind. Contact us for your free consultation today.
Let us get started on your case by calling 503.245.5677.