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What is malicious prosecution?

Sometimes an individual hasn't done anything wrong to warrant an arrest or criminal charges. Nevertheless, the police officer -- perhaps because he or she has a personal vendetta against the defendant -- decided to arrest the person without sufficient cause. These cases are referred to as "malicious prosecution."

In most cases of malicious prosecution, the Fourteenth Amendment Comes into play. The Fourteenth Amendment protects people from wrongful arrest without sufficient cause. It also protects people from unfair search and seizure.

Here are four things that need to be present in order for a plaintiff to prevail in a malicious prosecution claim against police:

  • The police officer brought forward a criminal proceeding against the plaintiff.
  • The plaintiff won the criminal proceeding after going to court. In other words, the proceeding didn't result in a conviction.
  • Police didn't have a probable cause to search, arrest and/or accuse the plaintiff.
  • The police officer initiated the criminal process with malice against the plaintiff.

All of the above needs to be true in order for a plaintiff to win a malicious prosecution lawsuit. If police can prove, for example, that the officer had a viable reason to search, arrest and/or charge the plaintiff with a crime, then the malicious prosecution claim will not hold water in court.

If you feel that you were arrested or accused of a crime unfairly, and that the officer targeted you because he or she had a vendetta of some sort against you, you may want to look into your legal rights and options. By claiming malicious prosecution, some defendants may be able to get money to pay for the injuries and damages caused by the officer.

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