color of law - Legal Definition
Webster's New World Law Dictionary Copyright © 2010 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey.
The conduct of a police officer, judge, or another person clothed with governmental authority that, although it superficially appears to be within the individual’s lawful power, is actually in contravention of the law. For example, a police officer who makes a false arrest while on duty, or while off duty but when they are wearing a uniform or badge, is acting under color of law. In some circumstances, the phrase also applies to the conduct of private individuals that is specifically authorized or approved by a statute. Depriving a person of his or her federal civil rights under color of law is, in and of itself, a federal crime and a ground for a cause of action. Also called under color of law. If the conduct violates a federal civil right or criminal law, it is also called state action. See also color of title.
Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.