Famighetti & Weinick PLLC are Long Island civil rights attorneys. Civil rights are personal rights guaranteed to citizens by statute, the New York State Constitution, or the United States Constitution. 42 U.S.C. § 1983, sometimes just called Section 1983, is a federal law which allows individuals to sue the government for civil rights violations. Different types of Constitutional rights violations are discussed below.
Most Constitutional civil rights violations arise from the amendments to the United States Constitution. One prevalent area of civil rights lawsuits is related to the First Amendment. The First Amendment sets forth several rights including freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of assembly. Courts have held that the First Amendment also protects individuals’ political activities and right to associate with others.
An example of a First Amendment violation could be where a local town denies a building permit to a resident because the resident has been vocal about opposing the town’s leaders. Another example could be where a village mayor directs a code enforcement officer to issue a citation to a resident who openly opposed the mayor during an election.
The Fourth Amendment concerns the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. The Fourth Amendment usually relates to police or law enforcement activity. For example claims of false arrest, malicious prosecution, and abuse of process arise from the Fourth Amendment. Also, when police or correction officers use excessive force on individuals who have been arrested but not yet convicted, the claim of excessive force may arise under the Fourth Amendment.
The Fourteenth Amendment provides guarantees of due process and equal protection. Due process means that the government cannot deprive individuals of life, liberty, or property without due process, usually meaning a hearing or some other opportunity to contest the government conduct. An example of a Fourteenth Amendment violation case handled by Long Island civil rights lawyers at Famighetti & Weinick PLLC is a case where a town had entered a resident’s property, taken certain personal property out of a garage, and then threatened to demolish the garage because it did not comply with building codes. Because the town had not given notice to the resident or provided him an opportunity to be heard before demolishing the garaging, the resident had a Fourteenth Amendment due process case.
The equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment requires the government to treat all citizens equally under the law. An example of a Fourteenth Amendment case would be if a county police department maintained a policy that its police officers should stop and frisk Muslim individuals and not individuals of other religions.
An important consideration for Constitutional rights cases, is that the Constitution applies only to the government. In other words, employees of a corporation, such as employees of the local supermarket, cannot violate the Constitution. Private companies’ employees may be subject to other laws, but the Constitution does not apply to private actors. Government actors may include police officers, code enforcement officers, school administrators, or any other individual who is acting in his or her role as a government employee or government official.
The Long Island civil rights lawyers at Famighetti & Weinick PLLC are experienced in handling Constitutional rights violations. Extensive damages may be available for victims of Constitutional torts, including emotional damages, economic damages, and punitive damages. Section 1983 also allows successful civil rights plaintiffs to recover their attorneys’ fees.
Famighetti & Weinick PLLC offers free confidential consultations to citizens who believe their Constitutional civil rights have been violated.