Civil Rights

Civil Rights

Here at Navigate Law Group, we are ready to take on the big guys to protect your civil rights. Whether it is an international company, the local police department, or a state agency, we are not afraid to take them on.

What are civil rights? Civil rights are your Constitutionally and statutorily guaranteed rights. Our state and federal legal frameworks are set up to allow you to protect your most sacred civil rights. We can help you fight for your civil rights in court.

At Navigate Law Group, our civil rights attorneys have a track record of achieving results against some very large and frightening entities including private employers, state agencies and local governments.  We have represented clients whose rights have been violated on the based of race, national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and religion.

We also investigate and file cases related to civil rights violations by state actors such as rights violations by:

  • jail or prison authorities;
  • private employers;
  • police officers or departments;
  • local governments;
  • state hospitals; and
  • other state actors.

Common examples of cases that we take:

  • Police misconduct, police shootings and, excessive use of force;
  • Unlawful searches, seizures, arrests and detentions;
  • Personal injury cases;
  • First amendment issues;
  • Wrongful Death claims;
  • Violations by prison guards;
  • Civil forfeiture cases;
  • Wrongful terminations;
  • Sexual Harassment or misconduct;
  • Civil rights appeals;
  • Discrimination; and
  • Prisoner mistreatment;

We welcome the challenge to fight against the government, the police, or your employer. Our civil rights attorneys are committed to protecting the rights of our neighbors in the community. If you think that you or your loved one has had their civil rights violated, please don’t hesitate to call us.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are civil rights?

Civil rights are an expansive set of rights that are designed to protect individuals from unfair treatment and to be free from unfair treatment or discrimination in a number of settings — including police custody, employment, in prisons, in housing, in public accommodations, and more — and based on certain legally-protected characteristics. Our state and federal legal frameworks, such as the United States Constitution are set up to allow you to protect your most sacred civil rights.

Can I sue the police?

If you have been the victim of police misconduct, such as a shooting, or excessive use of force, you have a right to file a civil lawsuit. Title 42 U.S.C Section 1983 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 citizen of 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 this means is that the federal law prohibits any government figure from denying you your civil rights as guaranteed by the Constitution. Therefore under this and other related state laws, you are indeed able to sue the police for misconduct. 

I have a loved one that was injured or killed by the police or prison personnel. Do I have a civil rights claim?

It depends. If the police used excessive force, engaged in misconduct, or had no legitimate reason to injure or kill your loved one, you may have a civil rights claim under the Federal Civil Rights Act, namely 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, or under relevant State Tort Law as well. Our civil rights attorneys will want to review your evidence or speak to relevant witnesses of the event in question. 

Whether it is a police shooting or excessive use of force case, or while in custody, an inmate received injuries unreasonably caused by prison staff, our attorneys are ready to ask the tough questions of the government to get the answers that you and your family deserve.

What types of evidence do I need to have a successful civil rights case?

In order to have a strong civil rights case, it is important to have evidence. Whether it is footage of the incident on your cell phone, police reports or records, documentation of your injury or a witness who can testify to the event, you will need to prove your case in court. Make sure to preserve all evidence that you have and share it with your attorney. These cases need strong evidence to prove them in court.

Will it be expensive to hire Navigate civil rights attorneys?

Victims of police misconduct or other civil rights violations often fear that they cannot afford to hire a civil rights lawyer. For that reason, they do not pursue their civil rights claims. However, we may be able to provide our services on a contingent basis, which means we will take the case by agreeing to take a portion of any recovery, usually about a third. This way, our clients do not have to be afraid of a stiff attorney fee bill.

What types of rights are protected under the law?

Under state and federal law, a broad range of civil rights are protected including freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association, freedom from cruel and unusual punishment, equal protection of the law, and due process of law.

Some of the rights that are protected are the following which are protected under the United States Constitution:

First Amendment: freedom of speech, religion, and association

Fourth Amendment: Freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures of “persons, places, and effects.” 

Fifth Amendment: Right to remain silent, due process

Eight Amendment: protects against abuse in the form of cruel and unusual punishment and deliberate indifference to serious medical needs

Fourteenth Amendment: Right to due process of law and, guarantees equal protections of the laws.

If you believe that one or more of your rights has been violated, please don’t hesitate to contact Navigate Law Group immediately. 

I was convicted of the charges. Does that mean I won’t be able to sue for excessive force?

Many people wrongfully assume that if you were convicted of a crime or plead to the criminal offense, that you can’t then go back and sue to enforce your civil rights. This is not always the case. 

The police will sometimes charge you with a bogus charge such as “resisting arrest” or “assault on an officer” just to cover up excessive use of force. Then you may be forced to take a deal, because you can’t afford an attorney or you risk going to jail for something you didn’t do. 

If you are convicted of a crime but you still have evidence of police or other government misconduct, you can still prevail in a lawsuit against the government agency. Speak with one of our attorneys to see if you may have a claim. 

What types of damages are available in civil rights cases?

The type of damages you can recover in a civil rights case depends on the law that applies to your case. Some of the most common types of damages are the following:

  • General damages. which allow you to recover compensation for pain and suffering as a result of your injuries, as well as emotional distress, upset, and other types of general damages. 
  • Punitive damages. which are awarded in some courts (not Washington state court) as a sort of punishment if the bad actor’s behavior is bad enough.
  • Attorneys’ fees. In some cases, you will be able to recover your attorneys’ time spent on the case as well as any costs spent on the case. 
Can I file a civil rights lawsuit under Section 1983 against anyone?

The answer is no. You can file a lawsuit under Section 1983 only if the person who violated your rights was acting “under color of law”, i.e. a government official. That basically means the person who violated your rights was working for, or acting on behalf of, the local, state, or federal government. 

For example, if your friend tells you that you cannot post on social media anymore because he or she does not like your political views, this is not a violation of your freedom of speech, because the bad actor is not a representative of the government. 

Therefore, for purposes of Section 1983, the person infringing upon your civil rights must be a representative of the government. 

However, if you believe you were terminated from your employer for discriminatory reasons, we would recommend talking to one of our employment attorneys. Employment claims do not need to be made against someone acting “under color of law”.

Our Civil Rights Attorney

Trevor J. Cartales

Trevor J. Cartales

Senior Attorney

​Business Law | Alcohol Law | Cannabis Law | Estate Planning | Consumer Protection | Civil Litigation | Land Use Law | Entertainment Law

Colin F. McHugh

Colin F. McHugh

Attorney/Co-Owner

​Employment Law | Personal Injury law | Business Law  | Civil Litigation | Construction Law 

Let’s Work Together To Protect You!