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Law Enforcement Abuse Attorney in Richmond, VA 

One of the key rights that sparked the American Revolution was the right to peaceably assemble. The founders felt so strongly about the right to assemble that they protected it in the First Amendment. Unfortunately, recent protests over Israel’s actions in Palestine have seen heavy-handed tactics that amount to law enforcement abuse of power in Virginia.

If you’ve faced arrest, mistreatment, or injury by the police while protesting, an experienced Virginia civil rights attorney from Commonwealth Law Group can evaluate the details of your situation and accurately determine your legal options. Contact us for a free consultation today.

Law Enforcement Abuse of Authority in Virginia

The U.S. Constitution provides powerful protections for protestors, including:

  • The First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech and assembly
  • The Fourth Amendment’s restrictions against unreasonable arrests
  • The Fifth Amendment's guarantee of due process
  • The Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of excessive bail and cruel punishment
  • The Fourteenth Amendment’s promise of due process and equal protection

These rights belong to you whether you are located in Virginia or any other state.

At the same time, the government can regulate protests by:

  • Restricting the time and place of the protest
  • Requiring a permit to hold a protest
  • Removing protesters who trespass on private land
  • Preventing protesters from blocking roads or damaging property

Government agencies, including police departments, violate protesters’ constitutional rights when they exceed their authority, however. 

Some examples of abuse of power by law enforcement in Virginia include:

  • Using excessive force to disperse protesters
  • Arresting bystanders or lawful protesters
  • Abusing media members who are covering the protest
  • Detaining only protesters of a particular race or gender

If you faced any of these instances of police abuse of power during a protest, contact us to find out how we can pursue justice on your behalf.

Excessive Force When Dealing With Protesters

Virginia restricts when and how the police can employ certain tactics. Specifically, Virginia law only allows the following when an officer has a reasonable belief that the person posed a threat of death or serious bodily injury to themselves or others:

Inappropriate use of these and other tactics may qualify as excessive force.

Some common scenarios that might be classified as excessive force include:

  • Shooting non-lethal munitions at fleeing protesters
  • Restraining protesters with chokeholds
  • Using lethal force against unarmed protesters

Virginia does not restrict the use of tear gas, as long as officers use it during the proper performance of their duties. Thus, an officer may use tear gas after a lawful order.

Police Abuse After an Arrest

The police can also violate your civil rights after arresting you. Officers may rough up protesters simply because they disagree with them and not because they pose a threat. For example, officers may associate Palestine protests with Middle Eastern races, ethnicities, and religions. 

If they abuse or mistreat a protester on these grounds, they may have violated the prisoner’s civil rights. They may also display deliberate indifference to the safety of protesters housed with other inmates. For instance, locking up college students charged with trespassing during a Palestine protest with violent criminals might result in injuries. 

The liability for these injuries could fall on the police if they were deliberately indifferent to the risk of assault.

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The Role of a Richmond, Virginia, Civil Rights Lawyer

A civil rights lawyer from Commonwealth Law Group can outline your legal options after police violate your rights. In particular, a federal law codified at 42 U.S. Code section 1983 prohibits state officials from violating your Constitutional rights

You can file a section 1983 claim for monetary damage against police agencies that mistreat you during a protest.

Law Enforcement Abuse FAQs

What Is an Unlawful Protest?

A protest might be unlawful for many reasons, including:

  • Trespassing on private property
  • Blocking roads
  • Failing to obtain a permit

For example, a campus protest might be illegal if the protesters occupy a building after hours.

Can Protesters Go to Jail?

Yes. Protesters who trespass, vandalize, or commit other crimes can go to jail. However, expressing your opinion peacefully and lawfully does not constitute a crime, no matter how unpopular your opinion may be.

Do Protesters Have the Right to Talk to a Lawyer?

Yes, you always have the right to talk to a lawyer during questioning or after an arrest. The arresting officer must recite a Miranda warning and allow you to contact a lawyer if you request one.

Speak to Our Police Abuse Lawyers Today

Whether you experienced an unlawful arrest or physical mistreatment in custody, you have rights. At Commonwealth Law Group, we have the experience and resources necessary to protect your rights and seek the compensation you’re entitled to for the harm you suffered.

Contact a Richmond police abuse attorney at Commonwealth Law Group to schedule a consultation today.

“Great law group. Everyone was kind and down to earth. Made me feel like I was their only client. Very attentive to me and my case.”

Karen Jacobs

If you have been injured at work or through the negligence of another individual or entity, contact us at (804) 999-9999 or or use the form below to connect with our legal team. We will fight to get you the justice you deserve.