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Color of Law

Definition - What does Color of Law mean?

"Under the color of law" is a phrase used to describe an action taken with the appearance that the actor possesses a legal right or is enforcing a law. The phrase is often used in civil rights cases where a governmental agent, like a police officer, is acting within the authority granted to them. A person who complies with an agent acting under the color of law usually believes that the agent acts with legal authority.

Justipedia explains Color of Law

The phrase “under the color of law” is most famously used in the United States Criminal Code. Section 242 of Title 18 prohibits any person from acting under color of law to infringe upon any constitutional right or privilege. If a police officer, acting in a situation where others would reasonably believe that the officer is acting with legal authority, improperly deprives a person of their rights or privileges, the officer is said to be acting illegally under color of law.

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