When a person feels that their civil rights have been violated, they often feel as though their basic human rights have been challenged. “Civil rights” is a term with a broad meaning but is generally assumed to be the core values and principles that people should follow. Both state and national laws define when violations of these human rights have occurred. Most violations happen because of discrimination in such areas as housing, banking, or education, but they can also come from infringements by the government of the rights provided in the Constitution, such as freedom of speech, the free exercise of religion, or the right to protest.
In California, there are four pieces of state and federal legislation (outside of the Constitution) that are the main components of civil rights law:
- The Civil Rights Act of 1964. This national policy was put into place as an effort to end segregation by pushing for equal voting rights and outlawing segregation in places like schools and businesses.
- The Unruh Civil Rights Act. This law from 1959 outlaws discrimination based on race, sex, color, religion, age, disability, and other protected identities within the workplace.
- The Bane Act. This act provides civil and criminal penalties for those who threaten or intimidate others’ civil rights. It is often cited in conjunction with hate crimes.
- The Ralph Civil Rights Act. Much like the Bane Act, this piece of legislation provides an outline for the awarding of damages to victims of civil rights violations. It also outlines penalties for offenders that are linked to threats of hate violence.
Civil Rights and Color of Law Violations
One of the most common violations of a person’s civil rights occurs under what is known as the color of law, which encompasses crimes that are committed under the assumption of power and authority that is authorized by a local, state, or federal agency to deprive someone of their rights. These acts are often committed by those in the legal system, which makes understanding them important for a person accused of a crime as well as the attorney they choose to represent them. When attorneys speak of protecting your rights, it is often in reference to color of law violations.
Common violations occur because there has been an infringement on a person’s right to:
- Due process.
- Be free from unreasonable search and seizure.
- Be free from discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
- Protection against cruel and unusual punishment.
- Protest freely.
- Assemble freely.
- Equal protection under the law.
These, as well as other violations, are often committed by individuals or entities such as prison guards, police officers, judges, public health care workers, or other individuals that act as public officials.
Although they are not necessarily the most common violators, police officers often gain the most attention. During any encounter with a police officer, an officer must evaluate the situation to make the best decision. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and many police officers find themselves in violation of civil rights laws through unlawful arrests, racial profiling, and excessive use of force.
Those in an official capacity are not the only ones who can violate the rights of others. Individuals and businesses can also infringe on another’s civil rights.
Across the nation, it is illegal to make any official or business-related decision that discriminates against a person based on their race, sex, disability, or other personal identity factors. This includes police action that is not based on a crime committed but on the suspicion of how a person looks.
Invasion of Privacy
The US Constitution protects an individual’s right to privacy. As mentioned, a clear violation of this policy is an illegal search and seizure. However, there are other ways this right is violated. The law also considers “intrusion of solitude” where a violator interrupts a person’s private affairs. If two individuals have an argument in a public forum and others are listening or watching the argument, there is no expectation of privacy. However, if two individuals are arguing in their own home, and someone is looking through the window, that person is violating their privacy, as they have a reasonable assumption of privacy in their home.
Public disclosure of personal information is another form of invasion of privacy. Commonly referred to as “false light,” this violation occurs when an individual’s personal information is released in a public forum with the intent to change the public view of that person. However, unlike a defamation case, the evidence used to establish a violation does not have to show that the information was accurate.
Invasion of privacy also includes identity theft, which is when a person uses another’s identity for personal gain. However, to be considered a violation, it must happen without consent from the person whose identity is being used.
Q: What Are Examples of Civil Rights Violations?
A: Civil rights refers to the laws in place that protect the basic human rights of people. Violations of these rights include excessive force by police, being passed over for a promotion because of a personal identity, denying housing to an individual because of personal identity, or efforts to impede your right to peacefully protest. These are just a few of the many examples that violate a person’s civil rights.
Q: What Are Five Examples of Civil Rights?
A: Examples of civil rights include freedom of religion, freedom of the press, the right to due process, the right to equal protection under the law, and freedom from threats or violence because of hate. A variety of state, local, and constitutional laws have been enacted to protect the rights of individuals.
Q: What Is a Violation of a Person’s Civil Rights?
A: Violating a person’s rights is the willful attempt to interfere with a person’s basic human rights, which include the right to life, liberty, and property. Every person is protected by their rights, and any attempt to discriminate based on race, gender, religion, or other personal identification is against the law.
Q: What Should a Person Do If Their Rights Are Violated?
A: Violations against a person’s rights carry the potential for civil litigation and can even have an impact on criminal investigations. If a person’s rights are violated, they can work with a civil rights attorney to file a civil claim. A prosecutor will also likely add civil rights charges to any offense where a violation of those rights occurred.
Civil Rights Attorney
If you feel your rights have been violated, then seek the help of a civil rights attorney who can work with you to help understand your options. The expert team at the Exum Law Offices have practiced law for over 25 years and will put their wealth of experience and knowledge to work for you. For more information, contact us today.