The right to civil liberties has been part of this country since the Declaration of Independence stated that everyone bears the undeniable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Bill of Rights establishes the rights to personal freedoms. However, civil rights deal with the legal protections people are entitled to under the U.S. Constitution and under laws passed at the federal, state, and local levels.
At Denning Law Firm, LLC, we believe that everyone, no matter who they are, deserves the civil rights protections afforded by the law. When those rights are violated, we aggressively defend our clients’ rights to sue the violators and hold them accountable. We proudly represent clients in Kansas City, Missouri, and in Kansas City and Overland Park, Kansas.
Civil rights are the cornerstone of a civil society. Without them, people would be free to harm, discriminate, and violate others’ basic rights. There are five key laws that protect your civil rights:
The Bill of Rights includes the first 10 amendments to the Constitution. Among the rights the document guarantees are the freedom of religion, speech, the press, peaceful assembly, to sue, bear arms, be free from illegal search and seizure, due process, speedy trial and trials by jury, and from excessive bail.
The 13th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution guarantee the freedom from slavery and equal protection under the law, respectively. The 14th Amendment also legally obligates the states to ensure the right to due process.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on a person’s race, color, religion, gender, or national origin.
In Missouri, the Missouri Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination in housing, employment, and places of public accommodations on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, disability, age (employment only), and familial status (housing only).
In Kansas, the Kansas Act Against Discrimination and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act prohibit discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, physical handicap, ancestry, or age.
There are numerous ways the civil rights of others can be violated. Here are some of the more common violations:
Excessive use of force triggers a large number of civil rights cases, most often against law enforcement. The death of George Floyd is a glaring example of an officer’s disproportionate use of force when such force was not warranted and resulted in harm. In this case, the officer faced both criminal and civil charges.
Unreasonable search and seizure is a Fourth Amendment violation in which law enforcement conducts searches and seizures without probable cause to warrant them.
Wrongful arrest, also referred to as a false arrest, occurs when someone with authority to arrest people detains another without probable cause, an arrest warrant, or consent by the detained person.
Violation of due process occurs when the government abuses its power by failing to follow the prescribed procedures required by law, therefore illegally depriving someone of their freedom, property, or life.
Violation of equal protection occurs when an authority discriminates against someone based on differences irrelevant to the law.
Violation of First Amendment rights involves violations of a person’s right to freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and the right to petition the government without reprisal.
Employment discrimination includes violations of the protections as set forth in state-specific legislation, namely the prohibition of discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, disability, and age.
Wrongful death violations occur when someone’s negligent or malicious acts result in the death of another person. The estates or families of victims are entitled under the law to bring a wrongful death action against the negligent or malicious parties.
The federal Civil Rights Act of 1871, under Section 1983, allows individuals the right to sue the government when someone acting on its behalf and with its authority violates that individual’s civil rights. In a Section 1983 action, the plaintiff must prove that the person who violated their civil rights was acting with the authority of the government at the time. What that means is that in an excessive force case, for example, the plaintiff would need to provide evidence that the law enforcement officer was working at the time of the violation.
Such evidence might include that they were wearing their uniform or showed their badge or used issued equipment such as handcuffs or a firearm. If the plaintiff can provide Section 1983 evidence, they can sue the governmental agencies that employ the officer.
At Denning Law Firm, LLC, we have a history of and passion for representing clients as their civil rights litigation attorneys in cases stemming from a variety of civil rights abuses and violations in Kansas City, Missouri, and Kansas. We pursue violations with compassion for our clients and strive to hold those who violated their civil rights accountable.
If your civil rights have been violated, contact us to schedule a free case consultation. Don’t delay. Call now.