Many people haven’t ever heard of a Section 1983 lawsuit until they have to launch one themselves or know someone who files one. This is a section of the law that sets standards for filing a lawsuit for police misconduct. There are some very important points in this area of the law that anyone who has been or currently is in police custody.
This law was originally meant to help protect African Americans from police mistreatment, but this isn’t a limiting factor. In fact, this statute is much broader than what many will realize.
One part of the law states “any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof,” which means that anyone who is in the United States when the mistreatment occurs can take legal action. This includes people who are citizens, those who are legal immigrants and those who are undocumented immigrants. Your legal status here doesn’t have any part in your case, so don’t let this stop you from taking action.
Another criteria set by the statute for these cases is that your federal rights have to be violated. This can be anything from an illegal search being conducted to you being subjected to police brutality. It can even be used if your rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) were violated while you were in prison.
Finally, the person who violated your rights must have been a state or local official. You can’t bring a Section 1983 lawsuit against a private sector security guard, but you could bring one due to the actions of a jailer or police officer.
It is always a good idea to find out exactly where your case falls within the scope of the law. This can help you plan according to the facts of the matter.