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Civil Rights FAQ

Common Questions About Civil Rights in Chicago

Did you know you could sue the police?Sadly, people assume that they cannot sue the police after they have been victimized by them. However, when you have been the victim of police brutality or any type of police misconduct, you have a right to file a civil lawsuit. Section 1983, Title 42 of the United States Code states that any person who "under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State...subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizenof the United States...to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law."

What are my civil rights?Many people in our community suffer from abuse of authority on the part of police and fail to take action to defend their rights, due to the simple fact that they do not know their rights. Through Section 1983 you can obtain justice for the violation of your federal constititional rights, including your rights under the Bill of Rights. For instance, you can sue for violations of your Fourth, Fifth or Fourteenth Amendment rights. The Fourth Amendment guards you against unlawful search & seizure, such as when the police make a search or an arrest without a warrant or probable cause. The Fourth Amendment also protects you when the police cross the line and use too much force. The Fifth Amendment provides your right against testifying against yourself and secures you against coerced confessions. The Fourteenth Amendment provides protection against due process violations.

What type of result can I expect if my lawsuit succeeds?You may be able to recover financial compensation for the losses you incurred as a result of the incident, including medical bills, lost income in the past, present and future, and pain and suffering. This includes compensation for physical as well as emotional pain and suffering. You can also claim punitive damages against the individual who violated your civil rights. Beyond securing a settlement or a civil judgment against the wrongdoers, you may also have the satisfaction of holding the police officer or other individual accountable, as well as helping others avoid similar abuses by putting pressure on the police department to reform its tactics.

I was convicted of the charges. Can I still file a lawsuit?Many people wrongly assume that they can never file a lawsuit once they have been convicted of a crime. The truth is that you may still be able to file a lawsuit even if you were convicted in criminal court. When police officers beat someone up they often charge that person with resisting arrest to cover their tracks. That person is often forced to plead guilty to that crime to avoid jail time. But that plea does not automatically mean that the person cannot file an excessive force lawsuit against the offending cops. A police brutality lawsuit might still be possible even if you plead guilty to resisting arrest, assault or battery to a police officer. As an example, Mr. Foutris has won cases where his clients suffered police brutality even though those clients were forced to plead guilty to crimes, such as resisting arrest, in order to avoid jail. Similarly, Mr. Foutris successfully represented a man who had been forced to confess to a murder he did not commit and spent 6 ½ years in prison after a wrongful conviction. In that case, the City of Chicago hired an outside law firm to assist with the defense and assigned more than half a dozen attorneys to defend the case. Mr. Foutris won by convincing the jury to believe the client's word over that of several homicide detectives, even though the client had a 30 year long criminal record.

How much will it cost me to hire a civil rights lawyer?Victims of police misconduct often fear that they cannot afford to hire a civil rights lawyer. For that reason they do not pursue their civil rights claims. That fear should not prevent you from contacting us because Foutris Law Office, Ltd. handles civil rights lawsuits on a mixed contingency basis.

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Contact Foutris Law Office, Ltd. to speak with an experienced Chicago civil rights attorney and to learn whether you have grounds for a lawsuit. You have rights, and the firm will help you enforce them.

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