Civil Rights Attorney in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
There may be no more fundamental protection that Americans have other than their civil rights. For centuries now, the idea that each human has a specific set of inherent rights has been the backbone of our constitution and democracy. However, there are many cases where unless you already know what your rights are and can stand up for them, you may find that they’re being violated.
If you’re interested in speaking with a civil rights attorney about a recent incident of discrimination, harassment, wrongful arrest, unreasonable searches, seizures, or any other violation, reach out to our team at H. Rosen Law, P.C. for legal assistance. With offices in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, we’re able to represent clients throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania, including Harrisburg and Scranton.
Laws That Protect Your Civil Rights
There are several federal and state laws that put protections in place for your civil rights. Perhaps the most important is the Bill of Rights established in 1791. These ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution include some of the biggest rights we have today, such as the freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, the right to legal counsel, and the right to a speedy and fair trial. Subsequent additions to the Constitution include the 13th and 14th amendments, passed at the end of the American Civil War, which abolished slavery and ensured African Americans had the right to vote.
The 20th century brought with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited discrimination based on “race, color, religion, sex or national origin.” It also prohibited employment discrimination and paved the way for all schools to be integrated. At the state level, there’s additional protection under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA), which further prohibits discrimination in the workplace for both private and public employees.
Common Civil Rights Violations
Excessive Use of Force: Excessive use of force is a type of police misconduct that not only violates your civil rights, but it’s also a human rights violation. In the case of police violence, the Fourth Amendment will come into play because it guarantees your right to be “secure in your person” against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Unreasonable Searches and Seizures: The Fourth Amendment specifically outlaws unreasonable searches and seizures, and this includes your person, your home, and your effects. In modern times, this also includes your car and phone.
Wrongful Arrest: Wrongful arrests are also typically protected under the Fourth Amendment because it involves an illegal search or seizure of your personal belongings, which often means they did not have probable cause for the arrest.
Due Process Violation: The Fourteenth Amendment ensures the due process of law, and under it, you cannot be deprived of property, freedom, or life without due process of law. This means that you must be treated fairly in the justice system, and law enforcement must abide by the law throughout the entire process.
Equal Protection Violation: The Fourteenth Amendment also outlines the equal protection clause, which means that the state or federal government can't affirm or deny protections differently from one person to another.
First Amendment Violation: There are four main rights protected under the First Amendment: speech, religion, press, and assembly. Common violations under this amendment are freedom of speech or violations of the freedom of assembly (for example, participating in a protest).
Employment Discrimination: Both federal and state laws protect against employment discrimination. This would include actions like being fired or harassed by coworkers or management due to your race, gender, or sexual orientation.
Wrongful Death: Not all wrongful deaths are due to civil rights violations, but many are. In either case, you may have the right to bring a lawsuit against the guilty party.
Section 1983 Actions
A Section 1983 lawsuit allows individuals to sue police officers for actions that have violated their civil liberties. Although the number “1983” is the title of this law, the actual ordinance was passed back in 1871. This type of lawsuit can be used against anyone who is acting under “color of law,” which can mean police officers, government actors, an election official, a prison guard, or anyone who’s acting as a representative of the state. A Section 1983 lawsuit is often used against law enforcement officers who have made an unlawful arrest, used excessive force or violence during an arrest, been accused of racial profiling, or performed an illegal search and seizure of an individual. Importantly, this can only be used when a federal law has been violated or a right under the U.S. Constitution, not a state law.
Civil Rights Attorney Serving Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Too many people face discrimination or harm because their civil rights are not being upheld. If you’re in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, area and want to learn more about how to protect your civil rights, give us a call at H. Rosen Law, P.C. to schedule a consultation. Our team has the resources, practice, and knowledge to walk you through the process of seeking justice.