Of all the federal crimes that could be committed, from insider trading and tax evasion to a host of other fraud crimes, deprivation of constitutional rights under the color of law is slightly different by virtue of the power dynamics at play. In many cases, deprivation of constitutional rights is perpetrated by police, corrections officers, or other representatives of the law, including judges. In that sense, it can be trickier to defend, and the following shows why.
What Is Deprivation of Constitutional Rights Under Color of Law?
To comprehend this particular criminal activity, you must first understand what is meant by “color of law.” Essentially, “color of law” means the crime was committed by someone under the guise of law enforcement or, per the Constitution, “acting under color of any law to willfully deprive a person of a right or privilege protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States.” As the United States Department of Justice puts it, “color of law” implies acts done by:
- Federal officials
- State officials
- Local officials
Each of these officials has lawful authority but willfully acts beyond the bounds of such authority, meaning they represent law enforcement yet use their power in that role to deprive others of their constitutional rights. Examples of such acts include:
- Lying on official documentation in order to make an arrest, order a warrant, or prosecute a case
- Excessive use of force
- Coercion to perform sexual acts
Possible Defenses for Deprivation of Constitutional Rights
Cases such as these are investigated by the FBI and then prosecuted by the US Department of Justice since they are considered federal crimes. Per the law, the prosecution must prove that the accused had “specific intent” to deprive the victim of his or her civil rights. Deprivation of those civil rights deals primarily with:
- The Fourth Amendment—The right to no unreasonable search and seizure
- The Fourteenth Amendment—The right to not being deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process
In general, criminal defense attorneys can fight these charges on the alleged perpetrator’s behalf by arguing that he or she lacked specific intent and in fact was not proactive enough to pursue depriving those rights.
Contact a Bronx Federal Crimes Defense Lawyer
While all of this might make it seem like receiving a “not guilty” verdict will be simple enough, the truth is that you need the right lawyer to guide you through the process. Therefore, it is crucial that you consult an experienced NYC deprivation of constitutional rights defense attorney who knows how to deal with cases of this type. Call the skilled team from Joey Jackson Law, PLLC, at 1-833-JOEYJACKSON or 833-563-9522 for help with your unique situation.