Sometimes a police officer will bring criminal proceedings against a suspect even though the police officer lacks probable cause that the suspect committed the crime. The police officer “goes after” the suspect for some reason that is not legally justified. When law enforcement deprives someone of their right to liberty, it can constitute a violation of the individual's Fourteenth Amendment rights under the United States Constitution. Victims of malicious prosecution by law enforcement can seek damages for the abuses that they have suffered.
How Is Malicious Prosecution Demonstrated?
Malicious prosecution is a serious matter, and victims should not have to go through the stress of being subjected to criminal proceedings when they are innocent. Malicious prosecution by law enforcement occurs when:
- The police officer commenced a criminal proceeding against the victim;
- The proceeding concluded in the victim’s favor;
- The was no probable cause for the police officer to bring the charges in the first place; and
- The officer brought the criminal proceeding against the victim to be malicious.
Victims who have had their charges dismissed can bring an action for malicious prosecution against the law enforcement officer who unjustly and maliciously pursued the criminal charges against the victim. Victims may be entitled to damages for their lost time and any harm that they have suffered as a result of the malicious prosecution.
Common Examples of When Malicious Prosecution Arises
Malicious prosecution is criminal prosecution that is made for an improper purpose by law enforcement. The grounds for filing the charges and pursuing the victim are improper at the outset, yet law enforcement pursues the criminal proceedings despite this. Examples of malicious prosecution can include situations where law enforcement:
- Charges a victim with a crime to cover up police misconduct, such as excessive use of force or false imprisonment;
- Seeks to punish the victim by harassing the victim with criminal proceedings;
- Aims to ruin or tarnish the victim’s reputation by bringing unfounded criminal charges against the victim;
- Charges a victim with a crime to divert attention from the real perpetrator; and/or
- Abuses the position of authority or the legal process.
Each of the above examples is a situation involving police misconduct to bring about unjustified criminal proceedings against a victim. Malicious prosecution can cause a victim to waste a lot of time and money defending against criminal charges that never should have been brought in the first place. Victims of malicious prosecution should consider consulting with a police misconduct lawyer to get a better understanding of their rights and what legal options concerning recover are available.
At Napoli Shkolnik, PLLC, we take these claims seriously. We will work closely with you to establish the facts and to develop your claim so that you can seek the justice you deserve. Contact us to talk with one of our civil rights violation lawyers about your malicious prosecution claim today.