The ACLU of North Carolina does not review requests for legal assistance in person or over the telephone. To submit a complaint for consideration, you may either send a letter, preferably no longer than three pages in length, to ACLU-NC, P.O. Box 28004, Raleigh, NC 27611, or you may submit a grievance via one of our online complaint forms (see below). Due to the extremely high volume of mail we receive and the often incomplete nature of e-mail grievances, we cannot guarantee a response to simple unsolicited e-mails. However, letters mailed to our P.O. Box or submitted via our online complaint form will be reviewed and responded to in the order received.
The ACLU of North Carolina currently utilizes three online complaint forms, which can be submitted directly through our website. To complete an online complaint form, please select one of the links below (forms will open in a new window):
**Due to recent browser security updates, some users are having difficulty using the CAPTCHA located on each form. If you experience difficulty submitting a complaint form, please include the responses in an email and submit directly to: for review**
- GENERAL COMPLAINT FORM: CLICK HERE
- RACIAL PROFILING COMPLAINT FORM: CLICK HERE
- RACIAL PROFILING - CHECKPOINTS COMPLAINT FORM: CLICK HERE
Before you write to request legal assistance, please review the information below.
The ACLU of North Carolina is able to provide legal assistance in only a small number of cases. Violations of constitutional rights and civil liberties are widespread, but the ACLU of North Carolina is a small organization. We receive hundreds of requests for assistance each month. Because of our limited resources, however, we are able to investigate only a small percentage of the potentially meritorious requests for assistance we receive. As a result, we have to turn down the overwhelming majority of those requests for assistance.
The ACLU handles cases that involve violations of civil liberties and civil rights. Civil liberties include the right to due process and equal protection of the law, as well as freedom of expression; freedom of the press; religious freedom; the right of association; the right of privacy; the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, and the right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.
Many of these civil liberties are protected by provisions in the United States Constitution such as the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment, and also by similar provisions in the North Carolina Constitution. In most cases, these constitutional provisions apply only to the government. Accordingly, in most cases, a legal matter raises a civil liberties issue only when a government official or a government agency is responsible for violating your rights.
Civil rights statutes strengthen the right to equal protection by prohibiting private businesses as well as government agencies from discriminating. If you are the victim of discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, ethnic background, gender, religion, disability, and, in some jurisdictions, sexual orientation, you may have a legal remedy.
The ACLU of North Carolina generally does not accept the following types of cases:
- Cases against private businesses. The ACLU typically only litigates cases in which there is "state action" -- that is, cases in which government entities, agencies or employees have violated an individual or group's constitutional rights. We do not generally take cases against private businesses or individuals.
- Family law. The ACLU of North Carolina generally does not provide assistance in family law cases involving disputes about divorces, child custody, parenting time, or visitation.
- Denial of government benefits. The ACLU is unlikely to challenge a specific case of the denial of government benefits, such as worker’s compensation, unemployment, social security, or food stamps.
- Landlord-tenant disputes. The ACLU does not generally get involved in disputes between tenants and their private landlords, unless the issue involves discrimination prohibited by statute or ordinance.
- Criminal defense. The ACLU generally does not provide criminal defense attorneys to persons who are accused of crimes. There is an exception, however, when the alleged criminal activity clearly implicates a constitutional right such as freedom of speech. Thus, the ACLU is unlikely to provide a criminal defense to someone charged with burglary, even if the person asserts that the evidence was obtained in a search that violates the Fourth Amendment. On the other hand, the ACLU would consider assisting in the criminal defense of persons arrested for participating in a demonstration, if the arrests infringed on the right of free expression.
- Challenges to convictions or prison sentences. It is very unlikely that the ACLU would provide an attorney to challenge a person’s criminal conviction or the length of a prison sentence. Similarly, the ACLU will not be able to help prisoners who believe that the length of their sentence has been calculated incorrectly. If a pending appeal raises an important constitutional issue, the ACLU may submit an amicus brief in the appellate courts. Requests for amicus briefs should come from your appellate attorney.
- Complaints about attorneys. The ACLU does not handle complaints about a person’s current court-appointed attorney.
- Employment. The ACLU usually cannot help when employees believes that they were fired unjustly or were otherwise treated unfairly at work. This is especially true when the employer is a private company rather than a government agency. But when workers can show that they were fired or mistreated because of their race, gender, ethnic background, religion, disability or any other basis that violates anti-discrimination statutes, there is stronger legal protection. In such cases, we ask that you pursue your complaint with the North Carolina Office of Administrative Hearings, Civil Rights Division, before you send a letter to the ACLU of North Carolina. For information about filing a complaint with the NCOAH, visit their website or call the agency directly at (919) 431-3036.
- Cases that are too old. There are time deadlines for initiating most legal actions. If the incident occurred too far in the past, it may be too late for a legal remedy. The ACLU of North Carolina cannot provide advice about what time deadlines may apply to your particular legal matter.
- Cases that arise outside North Carolina. The ACLU of North Carolina cannot provide legal assistance if the matter did not take place in or arise in North Carolina. To find ACLU affiliates in other states, go the www.aclu.org.
If the ACLU does not accept your case, we cannot provide legal advice
If the ACLU is not able to provide legal assistance, we also cannot provide legal advice about your case. We won’t be able to answer questions about the legal significance of the facts, conduct legal research, or provide information about the legal deadlines that might apply to your situation. This policy allows us to direct our limited resources to the cases that we do accept.
Important information about deadlines
All legal claims have time deadlines. These deadlines may be different depending on the nature of the legal claim, the persons who violate your rights, and which particular rights were violated. For some kinds of violations, you may need to file a notice or pursue other administrative remedies with a government agency before you can file suit in court. These administrative procedures also have their own time deadlines. If you do not comply with the applicable time deadlines, you could be legally barred from pursuing your claim in court. Contacting the ACLU to describe your problem does not mean that ACLU attorneys represent you, and contacting the ACLU does not stop these time deadlines from running. The ACLU cannot provide you with advice about which time deadlines might apply to your particular situation. To ensure that your rights are protected, you may need to consult an attorney promptly to find out what time deadlines may apply in your case.
ACLU attorneys do not charge for their time
If the ACLU accepts your case, there is no charge for the time spent by the attorneys. You may be asked to help pay for the expenses of the litigation, such as filing fees and depositions.
What to include in your written request for legal assistance
Your request for legal assistance will be processed after we receive a letter that requests our help and describes the facts of your situation. We will respond to you in writing within a few weeks. Please allow sufficient time for us to evaluate your letter. You may complete our secure on-line intake form, or you may post us a letter. Send to:
ACLU of North Carolina
P.O. Box 28004
Raleigh, NC 27611-8004
Be sure to provide all necessary information for contacting you by mail and by telephone. It is also helpful to include your email address if you have one. (If you write from a county jail or other temporary facility, please include the name and contact information of a close relative or friend who will always know where you are.)
In your letter, please describe in detail the incident or the issue that prompts you to request legal assistance:
- In describing the incident, it may be helpful to answer the five “W” questions: who, what, when, where, and why.
- Be sure to identify the persons, business, institutions, or government agencies who are responsible for violating your rights.
- If the offending person or agency provided you with some sort of explanation, please let us know. If possible, please explain why you believe that explanation is not adequate.
- If the specific incident resulted in newspaper coverage, it may be helpful to include copies of the clippings.
- If you have documents, please send copies only; we cannot return originals.
- If your complaint involves mistreatment by police officers, it is especially helpful if you could obtain a copy of whatever report the police wrote.
- If you have already taken some action, such as filing an appeal or a complaint, please let us know the status of the matter.
- Please indicate whether the ACLU is authorized to write a letter of inquiry or a letter of protest using your name.
- Finally, please let us know what you are asking the ACLU to do for you.