Federal law and California law both provide remedies for those who are the victims of police misconduct. Any lawsuit filed against a governmental entity may seek damages for any act of misconduct. A lawsuit may also request injunctive relief to prevent police misconduct in the future. An egregious demonstration of police brutality may also subject the perpetrator to criminal charges.

Victims may file a civil rights lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which allows claims to be asserted where the accused is liable for civil rights violated under color of law. Lawsuits under § 1983 permit injunctive relief and monetary damages. Injunctions from successful 1983 claims may result in substantial changes in the defendant’s law enforcement agency. The monetary damages from a Section 1983 claim may include compensatory damages, punitive damages, and presumed damages, which compensate plaintiffs for the loss of liberty from having their rights violated.

However, recovering monetary damages in a § 1983 claim and Bivens action requires overcoming qualified immunity. Qualified immunity is a defense that the police officer can raise. It protects them from having to pay monetary damages in a lawsuit if:

  • they did not violate someone’s constitutional rights, or
  • they did, but the right was not clearly established.

A § 1983 action may be filed against the officer who committed the misconduct, the police department, and/or the town, county, or municipality. In contrast, Bivens lawsuits may only be filed against federal agents such as FBI agents or DEA officers. Unlike § 1983 claims, Bivens claims may not be filed against the Department of Justice (DOJ) or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The attorneys at the Dolan Law Offices may help any Californian obtain the best possible result in his or her criminal matter. John Patrick Dolan is a California State Bar Certified Specialist in Criminal Law. Certification as a Specialist in Criminal Law is the highest achievement awarded by the State Bar of California to attorneys in the field of criminal law. The attorneys at the Dolan Law Offices have decades of experience defending individuals charged with drug possession, domestic violence, DUI, and violent felonies. Call us today at (760) 775-3739 or find out more online here.

Remedies for Police Misconduct