What Does It Take To Sue For Malicious Prosecution?


Most prosecuting attorneys work within the bounds of the law to prosecute defendants in criminal cases. Unfortunately, a small percentage of them pursue cases with little to no grounds for prosecution as a means of harassing individuals or convicting people of crimes they didn't commit just to get wins on their records. This type of behavior is called malicious prosecution, and victims of this abuse can recover money for damages or losses they sustain as a result. Here's more information about litigating this type of case.

Malicious Prosecution Factors

To win a malicious prosecution claim, you must prove four factors were true in your case:

  • The prosecutor didn't have grounds or probable cause to file charges against you (e.g. no evidence of wrongdoing or falsified evidence)
  • The prosecutor initiated the criminal case for improper reasons (e.g. to damage your reputation in the community)
  • The prosecutor played an active role in the criminal case against you (e.g. investigated the case, filed the paperwork with the court)
  • The case was eventually resolved in your favor (e.g. dismissed, rejected by a grand jury, acquitted of charges)

Additionally, to be eligible for a malicious prosecution case, you must have been required to respond to the charges in court. If the prosecutor ends the case before your court date, then you cannot pursue a malicious prosecution against him or her.

Challenges to Litigating the Case

The first challenge you'll run up against when pursuing a malicious prosecution claim is prosecutor immunity. To give prosecutors a lot of leeway to do their jobs and avoid being hit with lawsuits for mistakes they may make, state and federal laws bestow prosecutors with immunity from malicious prosecution lawsuits.

The only way around this immunity barrier is to show the prosecutor acted illegally, against your constitutional rights, or outside his or her authority while handling the case. For instance, a prosecutor who planted evidence to at the scene of the crime to incriminate you would not be protected by immunity.

Another challenge that may be difficult to overcome is showing that the prosecutor persisted with the case for improper causes. In some courts, it will automatically be assumed that the prosecutor pursued charges for improper reasons when the judge finds there was no probable cause or grounds to file charges. However, this is not universal. You may be required to show evidence of the prosecutor's motives, which may be difficult to do.

If you successfully prove your case, you can collect compensation for a variety of damages including lost wages from spending time in jail, legal fees defending yourself, and even punitive damages if the prosecutor's actions were egregious enough. It's best to talk to a personal injury lawyer about your case to develop an effective legal strategy that increases your chances of winning.

For more information, contact Walsh Fewkes Sterba or a similar firm.


12 October 2015

take a lawyer to criminal court

Until marijuana is legalized in every state, there will be courtrooms filled with those who are deemed criminals for possessing and using it. If you have been charged with the possession and use of marijuana, you need an attorney. Having gone through this with my son, I know that the courts are not pleased with these charges and things don't always turn out well. This blog will show you several examples of what can happen if you go to court for criminal charges without having an attorney working on your side to protect your rights and reduce the consequences as much as possible.