The civil liberties that protect citizens, especially during the arrest or detention of a suspect, are an essential part of our nation’s legal system that are enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. These rights are covered in the Bill of Rights under the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, and they guarantee:

  • the right to a fair trial, to not incriminate oneself and to legal counsel
  • the right to due process, the guarantee of fair and equal treatment under the law, and the protection against prolonged detainment
  • the protection against unreasonable search and seizure, including the guarantee that evidence obtained illegally cannot be used at trial
  • the protection against cruel and unusual punishment, and the requirement that punishment be given in a fair and consistent manner, even in capital punishment cases.

In addition, under Article One, the writ of habeas corpus also guarantees due process and protection against unjust detainment of the accused.

Protections and immunity of police officers

The powers that protect police officers from being held personally liable for violations of an individual’s constitutional rights are a fairly recent development that sprang out of a series of court cases during the height of the civil rights movement.

The term “qualified immunity” is a doctrine that grants law enforcement officers immunity from civil lawsuits that could result in financial liability, unless the plaintiff can prove that the officer was not acting in good faith or knew their actions violated the victim’s civil rights.

In the case of qualified immunity, mere negligence and a failure to exercise the duty of care are not enough to create liability.

Section 1983

The primary law protecting victims against the misconduct of officers acting under the authority of state law is known as Section 1983 of Title 42 of the United States Code. This statute allows the victim to file claims of:

  • false arrest
  • malicious prosecution
  • unreasonable or excessive force

In addition, officers also have a duty to protect citizens from the misconduct of other officers, and a failure to intervene when it is happening may make them liable.

If you are fighting charges in Kansas City and throughout Missouri, it is crucial to have skilled legal representation to help you build a strong defense that will also protect your rights.