Police Misconduct Lawyer in Charleston, SC

The Charleston civil rights attorney at the Boles Law Firm helps victims of police misconduct, police abuse, wrongful arrest, and other civil rights violations to recover compensation for injuries caused by law enforcement officers and other government officials who are acting unlawfully or abusing the power given to them by the people.

Any claim or lawsuit against the government is an uphill battle – you are often asking the government (a court) to order the government (a police department or municipality) to compensate you for damages caused by the government (a police officer, prison guard, or other official).

Your civil rights attorney at the Boles Law Firm has the knowledge and experience with these cases that you need to maximize your odds of recovering full and fair compensation.

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FAQ for Civil Rights Attorneys in Charleston, SC

What is a 1983 Action?

As a starting point, no one is allowed to sue the government unless the government gives them permission to sue… This principle, called Sovereign Immunity, or “the King can do no wrong,” was adopted by the United States from the common law of England.

42 USC § 1983, however, provides a cause of action in the federal courts, called a “1983 action,” that allows you to file a lawsuit against any person who, “under color of law,” violates your civil rights – including your constitutional rights found in the Bill of Rights or any other “rights, privileges, or immunities” under the Constitution or state or federal laws.

Some of the more common Section 1983 claims involve violations of your First Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights. For example, in a wrongful arrest case for disorderly conduct (contempt of cop) where the officer arrested you solely for voicing your opinion, they have violated both your First Amendment right to free speech and your Fourth Amendment right to be free from unlawful seizure.

A 1983 action does not “cap” your damages like the State Tort Claims Act, and it allows for punitive damages when appropriate.

What is the SC State Tort Claims Act?

The SC State Tort Claims Act also provides a state-law cause of action that waives government immunity in certain situations, allowing you to sue a government agency or municipality for damages caused by a government agent’s negligence or other torts.

Unlike 1983 actions, a SC Tort Claims Act lawsuit is limited in scope – there is a cap on the total amount of damages that can be recovered, and you cannot recover punitive damages no matter how egregious and intentional the conduct was.

If you were injured by police misconduct or another civil rights violation, we may file a 1983 action on your behalf, a State Tort Claims Act lawsuit, or both, depending on the facts of your case.

What kind of compensation am I entitled to in a police misconduct case?

If we prove your claim and the officer or other defendant is not protected by qualified immunity, you are entitled to recover damages for losses that you have suffered that are similar to other types of personal injury claims, including:

  • Medical costs – past and future,
  • Long term care when needed,
  • Lost wages – past wages and future loss of earning capacity,
  • Reputational damage,
  • Pain and suffering,
  • Scarring and disfigurement,
  • Loss of enjoyment of life,
  • Loss of consortium, and
  • Punitive damages (in a 1983 action) when appropriate.

Can I get the police officer fired?

Probably not…

I know it makes sense that, if a police officer is abusing his or her authority, their department should clean house and get them out of there. But, in many cases, their department will help them to cover up their misconduct and stand behind them 100% no matter how terrible their actions were.

Although we may, in rare cases, enter into an agreement that includes a change in department policy or other changes that will help prevent similar misconduct in the future, terminating an officer’s employment is generally off the table in negotiations.

In most cases, the only thing that you can win in a civil lawsuit is money damages. Whatever the wrong that occurred, it must be reduced to a dollar value for you to receive full and fair compensation and to, hopefully, deter similar conduct in the future.

What types of civil rights claims does your firm accept?

We may accept a wide range of civil rights and police abuse cases but screen these cases carefully. In police misconduct litigation, it is a very real dilemma that “not every wrong has a remedy,” and police departments, municipalities, courts, and even juries will often give a police officer the benefit of the doubt.

Cases that we accept may include:

  • Police shootings,
  • Police abuse,
  • Police misconduct,
  • Other forms of excessive force,
  • Civil rights violations,
  • Prison abuse, neglect, and rape,
  • Police dog attacks, and
  • Wrongful arrest.

If you are not sure if you have a claim or if it is a type of case that we will accept, call us for a free consultation and we will let you know if we can help.

What is qualified immunity?

Qualified immunity sometimes shields police officers and other government officials from the consequences of their actions, giving the officer immunity from a lawsuit unless their actions violated a “clearly established” statutory or constitutional right.

In other words, a police officer is not liable for his or her actions if an objectively reasonable officer would have done the same thing, or if the courts have not already conclusively ruled that the conduct was illegal.

Sounds reasonable, right? It does, until you realize that the courts use the doctrine of qualified immunity to shield law enforcement whenever possible, allowing police officers to get away with what is sometimes egregious conduct.

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Call now at (843) 576-5775 or send us a message through our website to set up a consultation to discuss your case.