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What is considered a civil rights violation in Maryland?

On Behalf of | Apr 4, 2024 | Civil Rights

There has been extensive debate and discussion in Maryland as to how far law enforcement can go when conducting investigations, making arrests and dealing with the public. In recent years, such issues as excessive use of force, racial profiling, making unjustified arrests and persecuting people for reasons other than legal violations have come to the forefront.

State lawmakers and civil rights advocates have tried to address the issues. Unfortunately, people continue to be mistreated by law enforcement who function and misbehave under the guise of doing their job.

People who have been victimized and had their civil rights violated should be able to recognize when it has occurred and be fully aware of their rights to seek to hold violators accountable for their actions.

People should know their rights from the outset

Civil rights violations frequently happen during interactions with law enforcement. When an officer is investigating an incident or allegation, the person who is stopped should remember first and foremost that they do not need to say anything. They have the right to remain silent.

In addition, it is perfectly allowable to deny consent to have their person, their home or automobile searched.

There are times when the officer has the right to conduct a search. These searches are based on the officer having a warrant or probable cause to believe they will find evidence of a crime.

When the officer is not making an arrest or formal detention, the person can simply leave if they want to. They can ask if they are free to go, and, if they are not being detained, the officer must let them go.

Other rights include asking for legal representation. People also have the right to record the interaction on video. This has become quite popular since nearly everyone has a handheld device with video-taking capabilities. It can catch officers if they are behaving in an illegal way.

It is important for people who are stopped to understand that they will make the situation worse if they flee, argue or interfere with law enforcement. In cases where the officer is in the process of violating a person’s civil rights, it remains imperative not to make any movements that could escalate the situation and lead to a person being seriously injured or losing their life.

Consenting to a search to be agreeable in the hopes that law enforcement will be lenient for any issues is generally a mistake. Unless officers suspect there is a weapon, they cannot search a person’s belongings like a backpack or a purse.

With a home or business search, officers must have a warrant to enter the premises unless it is an emergency such as a person screaming. The person can ask to see a warrant and if the officer has one, they are only allowed to search specified areas.