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Tampa Criminal Defense Lawyers > Tampa Civil Rights Violation Lawyer

Tampa Civil Rights Violation Lawyer

The Federal government’s Civil Rights Division (CRT) conducts the litigation of cases to secure equal opportunity in the areas of employment, education, housing, voting, public accommodations and facilities, and federally assisted programs. CRT is also responsible for enforcing the antidiscrimination provision of the Immigration Reform and Control Act through the investigation and prosecution of charges filed on the basis of citizenship status or national origin.

It also prosecutes criminal violations. The Criminal Section prosecutes cases involving the violent interference with liberties and rights defined in the Constitution or federal law. The rights of both citizens and non-citizens are protected. In general, it is the use of force, threats, or intimidation that characterize a federal criminal violation of an individual’s civil rights and may include conduct such as Excessive force or other Constitutional violations by persons acting as law enforcement officials or public officials; Force or threats to interfere with the exercise of religious beliefs and destruction, defacing, or damage of religious property; or, Force or threats to interfere with the right to vote based on race, color, national origin, or religion.

Civil rights violations can become part of civil litigation or criminal prosecution. Many civil rights violations have both a criminal component and also authorize a private right of action to sue for money damages. The experienced Tampa civil rights violation lawyers at Trombley & Hanes, P.A. represent clients in both arenas. This page focuses on criminal laws and the defense of crimes involving violations of civil rights. For advice and representation regarding any criminal charges involving federal civil rights laws in Tampa, Florida or nationwide, contact Trombley & Hanes, P.A. for assistance.

Criminal Civil Rights Statutes

A number of criminal statutes are enforced by the Department of Justice through its Civil Rights Division Criminal Section. These include:

Conspiracy to Injure Citizens in the Exercise of Federal Rights (18 U.S.C. § 241)

It is a crime to conspire to injure, oppress, threaten or intimidate any person in the free exercise or enjoyment of their rights.

Willful Deprivations of Federal Rights Under Color of Law (18 U.S.C. § 242)

This statute makes it a crime to, under color of law, willfully subject any person to the deprivation of rights, or punish them differently.

Interference with Federally Protected Activities (18 U.S.C. § 245)

A person violates this law if one through force or threat, willfully injures, intimidates or interferes with any person voting, applying for government employment, participating in a government program, serving as a juror, or participating in or enjoying the benefits of a program or activity receiving federal financial assistance, on account of the person’s race, color, religion, or national origin.

Damage to Religious Property (18 U.S.C. § 247)

It is illegal to intentionally deface, damage, or destroy religious real property because of its religious character. This statute also prohibits intentionally obstructing a person by force or threat from the free exercise of religious beliefs. Religious real property is specifically defined to include a church, synagogue, mosque, or religious cemetery.

Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (18 U.S.C. § 248)

It is illegal to use force or the threat of force or physical obstruction to block access to a clinic where one is trying to obtain or provide reproductive health services. It is a violation of this law to intentionally injure, intimidate or interfere, or to intentionally damage or destroy facility property because it provides reproductive health services.

Hate Crime Prevention Act (18 U.S.C. § 249)

A hate crime is committed when one either willfully causes bodily injury or attempts to harm through the use of fire, a firearm, a dangerous weapon, or an explosive or incendiary device to another because of their actual or perceived race, color, religion or national origin.

Interference with Fair Housing Activities (42 U.S.C. § 3631)

This law is violated when one tries to intimidate another from participating in real estate activities because of their race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.

Peonage (18 U.S.C. § 1581)

Peonage refers to using a person for labor or service because of a debt they owe. It is illegal to hold a person in peonage or return any person to a condition of peonage. The penalty for violating this statute can include up to 20 years in prison.

Involuntary Servitude (18 U.S.C. § 1584)

Similar to the peonage law, it is unlawful to knowingly and willfully hold or sell a person into involuntary servitude. This law also carries a penalty of up to 20 years imprisonment.

Forced Labor (18 U.S.C. § 1589)

It is a crime to knowingly provide or obtain the services of a person by means of force, threats of force, physical restraint, or threats of physical restraint to that person or another person; by means of serious harm or threats of serious harm to that person or another; by means of abuse or threatened abuse of law or legal process; or through any scheme intended to cause the person to believe they would suffer serious harm or physical restraint for refusing. It is also a crime to knowingly benefit from another’s forced labor.

Trafficking With Respect to Servitude (18 U.S.C. § 1590)

This statute makes it a crime to knowingly recruit, harbor, transport, provide or obtain a person for labor or services in violation of the law.

Sex Trafficking (18 U.S.C. § 1591)

The sex trafficking statute makes it a crime to knowingly use force, threats, fraud or coercion to cause a person to engage in a commercial sex act knowing the person is under 18 years old or with reckless disregard to whether the person is a minor or not. Penalties range from ten years to life to 15 years to life, depending on the age of the minor. It is also illegal to benefit financially from participating in such a venture, and one can be sentenced to up to 25 years imprisonment for obstructing or interfering or attempting to interfere with the enforcement of sex trafficking laws.

In sex trafficking cases, the DOJ has made it a policy to prosecute johns in an attempt to reduce the demand for sex trafficking. This approach is in addition to prosecuting those accused of perpetrating or facilitating human trafficking.

Document Servitude (18 U.S.C. § 1592)

It is a crime to knowingly destroy, conceal, remove, confiscate or possess any actual or purported passport or other immigration document to prevent or restrict or attempt to prevent or restrict a person’s liberty to move or travel in order to maintain the labor or services of that person when the person is or has been a victim of a severe form of human trafficking.

Attempting and Conspiring to Violate Trafficking Statutes (18 U.S.C. § 1594(a), (b), and (c))

This law punishes attempts or conspiracies to violate a number of civil rights statutes, such as peonage, involuntary servitude, forced labor, trafficking mentioned above.

Representative Case

United States District Court, Middle District of Florida – Trombley & Hanes represented a highly decorated deputy sheriff with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office investigated by the Department of Justice and United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida for allegedly using excessive force during arrests. The deputy was accused along with other deputies of overly aggressive police tactics.

Trombley & Hanes, P.A. Can Help With Charges of Civil Rights Violations

The elements of every offense described above are outlined in their respective statutes, and the prosecution bears the burden of proving every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt to secure a conviction. These laws all carry a “knowing” or “intent” element the government must prove, and many must also demonstrate a connection with interstate commerce in order to pass muster as a federal crime.

The attorneys at Trombley & Hanes, P.A. are former prosecutors and experienced criminal defense attorneys who know how to challenge a prosecution’s presentation of its case and raise all applicable defenses. Persons accused of civil rights violations have many rights and defenses to ensure they are treated fairly, and the firm’s criminal defense lawyers are zealous in raising all applicable defenses and working to get the best possible result for the firm’s clients.

Civil Rights Violations Defense in Tampa, Florida and Beyond

For defense against charges alleging civil rights violations in Tampa, Florida or nationwide, contact Trombley & Hanes, P.A. at 813-229-7918 for immediate assistance.

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