Color of law can be described as the act of police or state officer irrespective of whether the act is within the authority of the officer. Law enforcement officers are given power by the state government agencies to ensure that justice prevails in the country. The powers bestowed upon them include: the power to seize and search property, detain suspects, arrest suspects, make rulings in court and convey criminal charges. These police officers perform acts that are presumed to be based on the authority given when in reality no such rules exist. This is mainly done in traffic where drivers are arrested forcefully in order to raise revenue for the state from fines charged. The United States has amended its laws so as to punish police officers who act under the color of law. Acts under color of law deprive citizens of their legal rights. According to the federal bureau of investigation (2009), color of law cases are categorized into the following areas: false arrests, use of excessive force, and fabrication of evidence, failure to keep from harm, sexual assaults and deprivation of property.

Excessive force is legally defined as the unreasonable seizure by police officers in carrying out a lawful arrest under given circumstance. State officers have a right to use a reasonable force when necessary in carrying out their legal authority which pertains to defending life, maintaining order and making arrests. This reasonable force ranges from use of physical force to use of deadly force. The force used should be equal to the level of attack posed. For example, a police officer cannot defend himself with a gun when attacked with a stone and at the same case he cannot defend himself with physical force when attacked with a gun. False arrest is very common in this state. It can be defined legally as the physical detainment of a person without reason or a right to do so. A person should be briefed of his or her crime before being detained or arrested. The arrested individuals should have a right to trials and they should not be punished in any way by the police officers. There have been reported cases of peaceful being arrested illegally.

Police officers are found to use their position or authority in committing sexual assaults. This is done through making unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favor and verbal or physical contact that is irritating to the citizens. The police officers or law officials threaten to arrest the citizen if she does not comply with the request. Police officers use their power to fabricate evidence in order to sway the ruling of the court. This is done to favor their friends, relatives or persons who have promised to pay the police officers if they prove them innocent. Fabrication is also conducted in the event where false arrest has been made so that the police officers cannot be charged for illegally detaining an individual.

Remedies for actions performed under color of law include injunction, damages, attorneys’ fee and punitive damages (Reinhart, 2000). Police and state officers should be discouraged from engaging in misconducts that violate the rights of individuals and they should not use their authority to perform illegal activities. The constitution has been amended to reduce illegal cases and the federal bureau of investigation is conducting investigations on such acts.


Federal Bureau of Investigations. (2009). Color of Law Abuses. Retrieved from:

Reinhart, C. (2000). Remedies for Violations of a Victim’s Constitutional Right. Retrieved from:


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