Although there is no official definition of excessive or unreasonable, these claims for civil rights violations typically arise when law enforcement officers use more force than is necessary to effect an arrest and includes wide-ranging police misconduct or unlawful police activity. Excessive force is commonly referred to as "Police Brutality."
The terms "false arrest" and false "imprisonment" are closely related, but the latter encompasses a much broader scope of potential civil rights violations and police misconduct. False arrest is one several methods of committing false imprisonment. Generally, a person is imprisoned falsely where they are forcibly, by threat, or secretly confined, abducted, imprisoned or restrained by a person without lawful authority and against their will.
Civil rights violations can also manifest in the form of malicious prosecutions resulting from police misconduct or initiated to cover up police misconduct. Generally, malicious prosecution occurs when a person is criminally prosecuted or civilly sued without sufficient legal justification. However, the right to initiate a civil suit for malicious prosecution arises upon the termination of the underlying suit favorably to the plaintiff. A plaintiff must also prove the underlying prosecution was initiated against the plaintiff maliciously.
In Florida, plaintiffs may sue the government for general acts of negligence resulting in potential civil rights violations committed by its agents and employees, but only under limited circumstances. Typically, the government may be liable, and thus subject to civil suit, where there exists a statutory duty of care owed to the plaintiff breached by its agents, employees, or any person acting under color of law, and, in some instances, as a direct result of police misconduct.
We also file lawsuits for civil rights violations pursuant to the Civil Rights Act of 1871, which are commonly referred to as “Section 1983” lawsuits. Lawsuits brought pursuant to Section 1983 allow people to sue state and local governments in federal court for police misconduct or instances where their rights under the United States Constitution or other federal statutes have been violated by a person deemed to have been acting under color of state or local law.
While our office remains open during regular business hours, we are currently closed to the public for in-person client contact or consultations due to the effects of COVID-19. If you would like to consult with an attorney about a prospective legal matter, please give us a call at (813) 640-4000.