How Long Does a Civil Rights Lawsuit Take?

Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts

While civil rights cases are often regarded as very important, they do not happen overnight. If you are interested in pursuing a civil rights claim, it might be a while before the end of your case.

How long civil rights cases last depends on numerous factors, including the nature of the civil rights violation and the government officials involved. Generally, civil rights cases may take about 2 to 3 years to complete. Some common examples of civil rights claims include issues of free speech, abuse of police authority, and equal protection violations. Keep in mind that various factors might influence the time it takes to complete your civil rights case. The complexity of the overall issue, the willingness of the defendant to cooperate, and the strength of your evidence. Civil rights cases may take so long to complete because the government is involved, and the stakes tend to be high. Civil rights claims often have ripple effects across various aspects of the government and legal system.

Call our civil rights lawyers at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin at (814) 826-3586 and schedule a free, confidential assessment of your claims to get started.

How Long Do Civil Rights Cases Usually Last?

It can be difficult to say how long your civil rights case might last without thoroughly reviewing the details of your claim and the laws involved. Even so, plaintiffs should generally expect to spend a couple of years working through their case before it is completed. Many civil rights cases take 2 to 3 years, but they have been known to end sooner or run longer in other cases.

Civil rights cases tend to take longer than ordinary private lawsuits because the issues involved tend to be complicated. A mix of state and federal laws might be implicated, and the subject matter might be nuanced and have a complex legal history. As such, attorneys on both sides will want plenty of time to research the issues, statutes, and case law surrounding the issue.

Courts also tend to take more time when hearing civil rights cases. Government officials might be named in the case, and the outcome might have significant ramifications in the legal field. Because of this, courts are hesitant to decide anything too quickly, and judges and fact-finders might take extra time for thoughtful consideration before rendering a final decision.

Examples of Civil Rights Claims

There are numerous types of civil rights claims you might file, depending on how your rights were infringed upon. In some cases, the violation is overt and obvious and might even be so outrageous as to cause anger within your community. In other cases, the violation might be more subtle, and you might be unsure whether your rights are being violated. In either situation, talk to a lawyer as soon as possible.

Free speech violations occur when government officials attempt to restrict speech and expression unlawfully. The subject of free speech and the First Amendment is often far more complicated than many people realize, and it is best to speak with our civil rights attorneys if you think your free speech is being violated. Generally, government officials can restrict speech only under very limited circumstances and conditions.

Many other civil rights cases stem from interactions with law enforcement. You might sue police officials if they abuse their authority. One possibility is that the police violated your Fourth Amendment rights by searching your home without a search warrant or a valid exception to the warrant requirement. You might also sue if the police held you for too long without charges or questioned you in an unlawful way.

Equal protection violations occur when government officials treat groups of people differently under the same laws. For example, if the government enforces laws that make unfair distinctions based on race, there might be an equal protection violation. Historically, laws forbidding interracial marriages have been held unconstitutional in civil rights cases because they are violations of equal protection rights.

Factors That Affect How Long Your Civil Rights Case Might Take

A myriad of factors may influence how long your civil rights case takes to complete. For some, their cases are relatively quick. For others, the case might be a long and drawn-out legal battle that goes on for years.

One of the most prominent factors to consider is the complexity of the issues. Often, civil rights cases are somewhat complicated. Government officials tend to be familiar with civil rights and try to avoid violations. As such, many laws that violate civil rights do so unintentionally. This often leads courts to weigh the intent of the legislators and other government officials against the actual effects of the laws they implement and enforce. Courts also must balance the governmental interests furthered by these laws with their harmful effects. In some cases, it can be hard to prove your rights were violated if the government had a very significant and legitimate interest in passing the law in question.

We should also consider the willingness of the defendant to cooperate. Sometimes, when we bring civil rights violations to the attention of the appropriate government officials, they quickly recognize and rectify their mistakes. This is sometimes the case when violations are unintentional and due to oversights in government. Other times, the government will fight the accusations of civil rights violations for as long as necessary.

The strength of your evidence is another big factor in determining how long your case might take. If you have solid evidence, case law, and arguments on your side, you might have a very strong case. Government officials might be quicker to back down when they realize they are outmatched legally. If evidence is harder to come by for whatever reason, you might have a longer legal battle.

Contact Our Civil Rights Attorneys for Help Getting Your Case Started

Call our civil rights attorneys at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin at (814) 826-3586 and set up a free, confidential review of your claims to get started.


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