Can You Pursue a Civil Rights Case Against a Government Official?

Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts

Your civil rights protect you every day, whether you realize it or not. When these rights are violated, you can take legal action against the person responsible. Often, this means suing a government official.

The nature of civil rights claims often means that government officials are somehow involved. Common civil rights claims filed against government officials include police misconduct, restriction on free speech by government officials, and due process violations in courts. Every civil rights case is unique and may require plaintiffs to prove different things. However, issues that commonly come up and must be proven include how the defendant acted under the color of law, how your rights were infringed upon, and arguments regarding how the government official should have acted. Many civil rights claims involve federal issues and are heard in federal courts. However, if only state laws are implicated, your civil rights case might be heard in a state court.

Our civil rights attorneys can help you begin a case against a government official if you call The Law Office of Andrew Shubin at (814) 826-3586 and arrange a free evaluation of your case today.

Bringing a Civil Rights Action Against Government Officials

Your civil rights are designed to protect you from abuses of government authority. As such, most civil rights cases are filed against government officials.

A difficult aspect of some cases is determining which government agency or organization is responsible for violating your rights. Our civil rights attorneys can help you assess the situation and determine which government officials should be held responsible.

In limited circumstances, private people acting on behalf of the government may be sued. For example, if a government agency hires private contractors to carry out certain duties, you might include those private contractors in your civil rights case. Keep in mind that in those kinds of cases, the government should also be named and included in the case.

While you can file certain legal actions against private actors for doing things that violate your civil rights, these are often not really considered civil rights cases. Instead, these often fall under more specific legal categories.

For example, if you were turned down for a job by a potential employer because of your race, you can sue the private employer under anti-discrimination laws. Your civil rights are certainly implicated in the case, but it is not considered a civil rights case. If you are unsure whether your case is a civil rights case or involves a private dispute, contact a lawyer for help.

Examples of Civil Rights Claims Against Government Officials and Agencies

While many, if not most, civil rights cases are filed against government officials, it is helpful to understand what kind of claims are commonly filed and who they are filed against. Government officials named in many civil rights cases include the police, executive agencies, and even judicial officials. Talk to an attorney about your claims to determine what kind of claim you have and which government officials are involved.

Police Misconduct

Misconduct by law enforcement tends to be a recurring problem. As law enforcement officials come up with new ways to investigate and conduct police activities, they often bump up against civil rights issues. One frequently cited issue is the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures.

If the police seized your property without a warrant, and there was no exception to the warrant rule the police could claim, you might have a valid civil rights claim. These kinds of cases tend to involve various police officers and members of law enforcement.

Free Speech Restrictions

Freedom of speech and expression is a part of the very foundation of our nation and legal history. It is one of the most fiercely protected civil rights we have. As such, government officials must be very careful when restricting speech and expression.

There are very, very limited circumstances under which the government can restrict your speech. If you find yourself unable to protest, picket, or otherwise express your beliefs or other speech activities, talk to our civil rights lawyers immediately.

One common example involves restrictions on protests and assembly. If you want to protest the government, but the government has issued a blanket ban on protesting on public property, this is a clear violation of your freedom of speech. While protests might encounter certain restrictions, like nondiscriminatory restrictions on the time, place, and manner of protests, they generally cannot be banned outright.

Due Process Violations

Due process is a broad and somewhat amorphous legal concept involved at almost every level of government and law. Essentially, you have a right to proper procedure when dealing with the government. This might be as simple as the right to dispute a traffic ticket or as significant as the right to present evidence and call witnesses in a criminal trial where you are the defendant.

When due process is violated, people might suffer greatly. There are numerous channels to help people deal with due process violations, including filing civil rights lawsuits. If you believe you were not given fair due process, call a lawyer right away.

What You Need to Prove in a Civil Rights Claim Against Government Officials

The exact legal elements of your case will vary depending on the nature of your civil rights claim. When government officials are involved in such cases – which is often – it is important for plaintiffs to prove how the government is involved in the case. Specifically, you need to show that the officials in your case acted under the color of law to violate your civil rights.

You also need to prove how you were injured. This does not have to include physical injuries, although it can. For many cases, including those involving civil rights, you have to demonstrate how the defendant’s actions harmed you. If the government passes a law that violates your civil rights, but the law is never enforced, there are no injuries, and there is no case. An attorney can help you identify your injuries and articulate them in a way that supports your claims.

You also need proof regarding how the government official should have acted. Why was their conduct in violation of your civil rights? If you believe your rights to free speech were violated, how should the government have acted instead? This kind of evidence often comes from case law, where similar issues have been discussed and decided.

Contact Our Civil Rights Lawyers for Assistance and Legal Support Now

Our civil rights attorneys can help you sue government officials if you call The Law Office of Andrew Shubin at (814) 826-3586 and schedule a free case assessment today.


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