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FAQs About the U.S. Constitution and Police Brutality

Filed under FAQs, Lawsuits and Damages, New Jersey Laws, Pennsylvania Laws, Police Brutality on March 4, 2011

New Jersey Civil Rights Claims Attorneys - Pennsylvania Civil Rights Lawyers

How the U.S. Constitution Protects You Against Police Brutality

The United States Constitution protects all people against police brutality and gives certain civil rights to the people.?Ǭ Most people are aware of the Fourth Amendment that protects us from unreasonable search and seizures, false arrests and illegal detention. But there are other important amendments that come into play in lawsuits involving police brutality:?Ǭ the Fifth, Sixth, Eight, and Fourteenth Amendments.

These Amendments to the U.S. Constitution were part of the original Bill of Rights.?Ǭ Although justices sometimes disagree as to whether the 5th Amendment was incorporated, and therefore states may have the authority to override certain federal rights, our attorneys know how to effectively and aggressively defend all your constitutionally provided civil rights in cases involving police abuse and brutality.

What are my Fourth Amendment Rights and how do they protect me from illegal search and seizures?

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The 4th Amendment is the part of the Bill of Rights that guards the rights of people against being subjected to unreasonable searches and seizures.?Ǭ It also provides for the requirement that any search warrant be?Ǭ signed by a judge and must be supported by probable cause. All police brutality cases involving the use of excessive force by law enforcement during an arrest or investigatory stop involve Fourth Amendment rights.

Related Articles :? Ǭ Is racial profiling a violation of constitutional rights?

What are my Fifth Amendment Rights??Ǭ Do I have the right to remain silent? Can police use illegally obtained evidence against me?

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

The main purpose of the Fifth Amendment is to protect people against abuse of government authority in a legal procedure.?Ǭ The Fifth Amendment includes (but is not limited to):

  • The right to due process which means that individuals may not be deprived of life, liberty, or property without “due process of law.”
  • The right to remain silent;
  • The right to refuse to say something that would incriminate yourself in criminal or civil court in either a federal or state court;
  • Limits the use of evidence obtained illegally by law enforcement officers;
  • Protection against double jeopardy (if found innocent you cannot be tried for the same crime twice.)

What are my Sixth Amendments rights? Do police have to tell me what I am being accused of? Can police deny me an attorney?

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

The Sixth Amendment provides many civil rights to people accused of crimes, including:

  • Notice of accusation (you must know what you are being charged with);
  • The right to an attorney;
  • Right to speedy trial, public trial, and impartial jury;
  • Right to confront and cross-examine accusers

Sometimes civil rights cases against the police involve evidence that was obtained illegally, including through physical force or intimidation, or if you were denied the right to remain silent or access to an attorney.?Ǭ If you were beaten or otherwise forced into making a confession, or evidence was found in an illegal search and seizure, your 6th Amendment rights may have been violated.

What are my Eighth Amendment Rights and how do they protect prisoners and inmates?

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

The Eighth Amendment protects inmates against cruel and unusual punishment (punishment of convicted criminals that would cause unacceptable suffering or humiliation.) If a person has been convicted of a crime, police brutality cases involving excessive force after a person has been convicted invoke Eighth Amendment rights.

How do Fourteenth Amendment Rights protect me from the police while I am awaiting trial? What are my rights to due process?

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

The Fourteenth Amendment contains a Due Process Clause that protects pre-trial detainees charged with a crime against the use of excessive force that amounts to punishment while they are in police captivity.?Ǭ If a person is sent to jail or otherwise physically confined by police, but has not yet been convicted of a crime or is awaiting trial, police brutality suffered under these conditions involve Fourteenth Amendment rights.

The Fourteenth Amendment also contains an Equal Protection Clause.?Ǭ This clause requires all states to provide equal protection under the law to all people within its jurisdiction.

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