DUTKO LAW, LLC - CRIMINAL LAWYER - ALLENTOWN, EASTON, READING, AND POTTSVILLE DEPENDABLE. RELIABLE. ON YOUR SIDE.
Attorney Dutko represents individuals with claims of police misconduct by local, state, and federal law enforcement.
Claims of civil rights violations are brought in federal court. A 1983 claim is brought against local or state officials or agencies. It takes its name from the federal statute under which the lawsuit is brought. A Bivens claim is raised when the federal government and its agents are involved.
CIVIL CLAIMS UNDER 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Federal statute 42 U.S.C. § 1983 allows people to sue state and local governments for violations of federal law or the United States Constitution. The action cannot be brought against the state itself, but instead is filed against the government agents that violated the law, where the agent is acting under color of state law. A person acts under color of state law when a person is acting in their official capacity.
Local governments and municipalities are only liable if the violation came from a police or custom.
A Bivens Claim
A Bivens lawsuit is a civil claim against a federal agent for violations of the U.S. Constitution. This type of claim cannot be brought against government agencies and only covers violations of the U.S. Constitution.
WHAT QUALIFIES AS A CONSTITUTONAL VIOLATION?
Most 1983 or Bivens claims are brought against police officers that use excessive force during an arrest or where prison officials deprive an inmate of medical care. However, sucessful claims have also been brought where an inmate was deprived his right to practive their religion and where police refused to allow a suspect to remail slient.
COMMON DEFENSES TO 1983 AND BIVENS LAWSUITS
Defendants will often raise a defense of qualified immunity. Defendants can avoid liablility by showing that their conduct did not violate a clearly established statutory or constiutional right and a reasonable person may not have known about that right.
DAMAGES / AWARDS
People whose constitutional rights have been violated are entitled to compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory damages include:
If the conduct is proven to be intentional or shows an extreme indifference to the right being violated, punitive damgages may be awarded. However, punitive damages cannot be raised against governmental agency.
If you've been a victim of police misconduct or feel that your constitutional rights have been violated, call today and speak with an experienced civil rights attorney.