All New Yorkers deserve to be treated with respect. In spite of laws requiring police to be respectful even when arresting someone, violations occur. This is where Section 1983 comes in to protect people.
What is Section 1983?
Section 1983 is part of the Civil Rights Act of 1871, a federal law that allows people to sue if their civil rights are violated. Under local or state law, this applies when someone acting under color of law deprives a person of their civil rights. In most cases, this applies to police officers violating someone’s civil rights. Violence doesn’t always have to be involved.
“Under color of law” refers to someone in a position of authority. This can include police officers, corrections officers, judges and state officials.
When can a person file a Section 1983 lawsuit?
If a person’s civil rights were violated by someone acting under color of law, they have the right to file a Section 1983 lawsuit, also considered a civil rights lawsuit.
There are various ways a person’s civil rights can be violated by someone acting under color of law. For example, in addition to police misconduct like excessive force, a lawsuit can be filed against a corrupt judge who uses their authority to sexually assault female suspects or corrections officers who subject Black inmates to racial discrimination.
One requirement for a Section 1983-based civil rights lawsuit is that the rights being violated are those that are protected by the federal government. A lawsuit cannot be filed based on the violation of rights that are only protected by the state.
Often, Section 1983 lawsuits include an additional violation of the law. For instance, the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unlawful searches and seizures, might be involved when a police officer uses excessive force to arrest someone.