The Bailey Firm

Newark Legal Issues Blog

Did racial profiling result in a violation of your civil rights?

Knowing your civil rights is necessary to ensure that no one violates them. You may think that most people want to respect your civil rights. Unfortunately, there are many people who would happily lead you to make mistakes that could undermine your civil rights and liberties.

That group likely includes New Jersey law enforcement officers, many of whom will actively attempt to trick people into waiving their civil rights. It's important to also realize that some officers will take steps that actively violate your rights as a New Jersey citizen.

For example, arresting you or detaining you simply due to racial profiling is likely a violation of your rights. However, in order to push back, you will have to prove that racial profiling occurred and show how the incident impacted your life.

What is racial profiling?

Racial profiling is an internal process that often involves an officer's internalized and inherent racial biases. For an example, officers may be more likely to stop a vehicle driven by a person of color in an affluent neighborhood, possibly because they assume an individual doesn't belong there or because they believe they may be there for illegal purposes, such as drug sales or theft.

Similarly, law enforcement may target and harass individuals who belong to a specific racial group without specific cause. Detaining and arresting someone who matches the explicit description of a suspect in a crime may not be racial profiling. However, arresting any individual of a certain race because of an alleged offense by someone of the same race may well be a form of racial profiling.

The trauma and social embarrassment of a racial profiling offense can have a long-term effect on your life, your mental health and even your career. Holding officers accountable for an abuse of their power not only validates your experience, but also protects others from similar abuses.

You can take action when police violate your civil rights

Experiencing a violation of your civil rights is an emotional and often frustrating experience. Many people want to simply put it all behind them and move on with their lives. That may not be the best approach. After all, if you don't take action, the law enforcement in your area may continue to behave in the same manner, which could impact other people in the future.

Additionally, whether you have added it up or not, there is likely a verifiable financial impact related to your experience of racial profiling. Whether it's missed work or the cost of therapy sessions to handle the trauma of your arrest and unnecessary incarceration, you shouldn't have to absorb those costs.

Taking action to stand up for your civil rights can help you get the compensation you need to offset the damages caused by racial profiling and decrease the potential for it happening again in your community.

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