In this country, you have certain inalienable rights that have formed the foundation of our legal system. Civil rights attorneys serve as the guardians of these important rights. When the government oversteps its bounds, we help hold them accountable. Often, the institutions that are supposed to protect your civil rights are the same ones that violate them. If you believe your civil rights have been violated, you may have the right to seek recourse by pursuing a civil rights claim.
Brian Zeiger is a staunch advocate of civil rights. He focuses on cases in which people’s civil rights have been trampled on when they are involved in the criminal justice system. He holds the police, prosecution, and government accountable when these powerful entities have exceeded their authority or mistreated those they are sworn to protect. Our Pennsylvania civil rights attorney is committed to protecting your civil rights and ensuring you have the freedoms guaranteed by our system of government. If your rights have been violated, reach out to a dedicated civil rights attorney from The Zeiger Firm.
What Does a Civil Rights Lawyer Do?
Civil rights attorneys are guardians and protectors of your most basic rights. They ensure that your rights are protected when you are confronted by the government and advocate for you if your rights are violated. Attorneys for civil rights handle many different types of cases, including unlawful searches and false arrests, as well as excessive force and police brutality cases.
Civil rights lawyers may take the following actions to protect your rights and respond if they have been violated:
- Investigate the incident in which your rights were violated
- Identify all involved parties
- Preserve persuasive evidence
- File civil rights claims with the appropriate government agency
- File lawsuits against government actors and entities
- Develop an individualized legal strategy based on the unique circumstances surrounding your case
- Research relevant case law
- Draft legal motions
- Negotiate settlements with governmental entities
- Represent clients’ interests in court
- Raise defenses in criminal cases
- Argue cases in court and through pre-trial motions
As many widely publicized incidents have shown, the police far too often act quickly and (maybe) investigate later. This has led to a pattern of violence and excessive force. The Zeiger Firm serves as an important safeguard for the public. If the police have illegally searched your property, used excessive force, or falsely arrested you, we can help protect your rights and demand accountability.
What Is a Civil Rights Violation?
A civil rights violation occurs when the government or one of its agents acting under the color of the law violates one of your civil rights. These actions could include anything from breaking procedural rules in a criminal case, such as conducting a warrantless arrest or illegal search, to discriminating against you because you are part of a protected class. If the government has violated any of your basic civil or human rights, The Zeiger Firm can help hold it accountable and take legal action on your behalf.
Common Civil Rights Claims
Brian Zeiger represents individuals after their rights are violated by law enforcement or the prosecution. Some of the types of claims our firm handles include:
The Fourth Amendment protects individuals from police officers’ use of unreasonable methods of search and seizure. Police are prohibited from searching an individual or their home without a valid search warrant or probable cause. If an officer has probable cause to believe an individual committed a crime, a subsequent arrest is reasonable, and the Fourth Amendment has not been violated. However, if the court determines the police lacked probable cause, the search and seizure may be deemed unreasonable and a violation of the individual’s Fourth Amendment rights.
Probable cause requires sufficient evidence such that a reasonable person would believe a crime had been committed. Police officers are permitted to make an arrest without a warrant when they observe the commission of a crime.
Sometimes officers depend on information to find probable cause that ultimately proves to be false. However, the officer will not be liable for a violation of Fourth Amendment protections if he or she reasonably believed the information to be true at the time of the arrest.
A claim for false imprisonment does not necessarily require that an individual was falsely placed in jail. An officer may be liable for false imprisonment if they unlawfully detain an individual in a manner that substantially interferes with their personal freedom. For example, an officer’s use of unauthorized bodily restraints may be the basis of a false imprisonment claim.
If an individual has been falsely accused of a crime without probable cause, they may have a claim for malicious prosecution. Malicious prosecution is a violation of an individual’s Fourteenth Amendment right to liberty.
To prove malicious prosecution, the victim must show the following:
- Law enforcement officials began a criminal proceeding
- There was no probable cause
- The victim was not convicted
- The proceeding was brought with malice toward the victim
Malicious prosecution claims sometimes arise in situations in which law enforcement seeks to harass a person by pursuing criminal proceedings. Officers may attempt to harm a person’s reputation by falsely accusing them of a crime, divert attention from the real perpetrator of the crime, or cover up police misconduct.
According to a report from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, excessive force refers to force beyond what the officer reasonably believes is necessary. In determining whether force is excessive, courts consider whether the officer’s use of force exceeded the limits of their authority.
In some situations, police officers may be justified in using deadly force. However, deadly force is only permitted in extreme circumstances. Generally, officers may use force that can cause death or serious bodily harm only in dire conditions after other methods have failed to control the situation.
In 2017, to address the issue of excessive force, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) published the National Consensus Policy on the Use of Force. The Policy was developed to guide police departments on the use of less-than-deadly force. The guidelines urge officers to use de-escalation techniques to control a situation before considering the use of violent measures.
A taser gun shoots small, barbed darts, which remain attached to the target and deliver a strong electric shock intended to physically incapacitate the victim. Every state permits the use of tasers for law enforcement officers. However, individual police departments determine the guidelines for their officer’s use of tasers when restraining individuals.
According to Reuters, approximately 49 people died in one recent year after being incapacitated by an officer’s taser. The number of deaths is relatively the same as those reported in both years immediately preceding the report. More than 1,000 people have died from police taser use since 2000. More than 90 percent of those killed were unarmed, and approximately 25 percent suffered from mental disabilities.
The term racial profiling refers to the actions of police officers that single out suspects based on the person’s race, national origin, ethnic background, or religion. The public has become more aware of racial profiling in recent years. However, even after extensive publicity regarding this issue in cases like Michael Brown, George Floyd, and Eric Garner, African American men are still disproportionately experiencing incidents of police brutality.
According to a recent Rutgers-Newark study, African American men have a far greater risk of being killed by the police than white men. Over the course of a lifetime, one of every 1,000 African American men will experience a fatal encounter with the police. It is often difficult to identify racial profiling. In Pennsylvania, the State Police Department does not collect data on the race of drivers who are subjected to a traffic stop.
Police body cameras record footage and sounds of police interactions with the public. Proponents of body cameras claim they reduce potential police misconduct and assert that the footage can be a valuable training tool. On the other hand, the use of body cameras raises concerns regarding violations of privacy.
There are other possible civil rights violations involving police body cameras, including:
- Unreasonable searches and seizures
- Cruel and unusual punishment
- Abuse by a public official
- Discrimination on the basis of age, color, sex, or national origin
A civil rights lawyer can help uphold your rights after the government has trampled on them and seek appropriate relief for the harm you have suffered.
Brian Zeiger, Civil Rights Attorney – A Powerful Advocate for Your Rights
For nearly 20 years, The Zeiger Firm has zealously defended clients against various forms of injustice. We are prepared to provide powerful advocacy to safeguard your rights. We are well-versed in this area of the law and can leverage our years of experience and our track record of success to fight for you. We want to hold those who have violated your civil rights accountable for their actions and prevent further abuses in the future.
The Zeiger Firm has recovered significant awards, including:
- $1.3 million in prisoner medical care deprivation case
- $750,000 in police brutality case
- $500,000 in police brutality case
- $500,000 in police brutality case
- $350,000 in police brutality case
- $250,000 in prisoner medical care deprivation case
Brian Zeiger is an experienced civil rights and criminal defense attorney. Some of his accolades and career highlights include:
- AVVO 10.0 Rating, Criminal Defense and Criminal Appeals
- National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40
- National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers
- American Institute of Criminal Defense Attorneys, Client Satisfaction Award
- American Institute of Criminal Defense Attorneys, 10 Best Attorneys
- Super Lawyers in the areas of Criminal Defense, White Collar, and Civil Rights
- National Association of Distinguished Counsel – Nation’s Top 1% – Criminal Defense
- Attorney and Practice Magazine’s Top 10 Criminal Defense Attorneys Pennsylvania
- American Jurist Institute, Top 10 Criminal Law Attorneys for Pennsylvania
- Admissions to the following courts: All Pennsylvania State Courts, Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, United States District for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Supreme Court of New Jersey, United States District Court for the Western District of New York, United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Supreme Court of the United States
Whether you’ve been unfairly targeted by a police officer or you are a victim of racial discrimination by the government, you are entitled to fair and equal treatment. Let us help you demand it.
Contact Brian Zeiger for Help
At The Zeiger Firm, our firm’s focus is on helping individuals who have been mistreated by the police and other governmental entities. If you are the victim of a false arrest, abuse of power, or police brutality, we want to help. After going through such an ordeal, you deserve unwavering legal guidance and compassionate legal support throughout the process. Contact our civil rights claim attorney to learn more about how we can help.