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Are you the victim of malicious prosecution?

Like many New Yorkers, you feel some anxiety when you interact with police officers. For most encounters, though, you can rely on law enforcement personnel to behave professionally. Still, occasionally officers use their badges to harass and intimidate

If you think you are the victim of malicious prosecution, you must act quickly to defend yourself, protect your civil rights and restore your reputation. Proving malicious prosecution can be difficult. Before you allege an officer acted illegally, you must know a few things about malicious prosecution cases.

The elements of malicious prosecution 

For you to succeed with your malicious prosecution claim, you must prove each of the following:

  • Officers did not act with probable cause when they interacted with you.
  • Rather than pursuing justice, officers brought a prosecution to humiliate, harass or injure you.
  • Your prosecution resulted in a dismissal, acquittal or another conclusion favorable to you instead of the state.
  • You have sued the officer responsible for maliciously prosecuting you and not someone else. 

You cannot win a malicious prosecution case by demonstrating only one or two of the above elements. If all do not apply to your situation, you may need to explore other options to redress your injury. 

A lower legal standard 

If you have had to defend yourself against criminal prosecution, you are likely familiar with the reasonable doubt standard. The legal standard for malicious prosecution cases, however, is lower.

Rather than having to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that officers maliciously prosecuted you, you only have to prove it is more likely than not you were the victim of malicious prosecution. 

The immunity hurdle 

Unlike private citizens, police officers enjoy some immunity from liability for their actions. That is, provided officers act in the line of duty, they generally do not have to worry about the legal consequences of their actions. There is an exception to this rule, however.

If an officer's actions violated your civil rights or were otherwise unreasonable, you may be able to overcome the immunity hurdle. Keep in mind, though, you also must show the officer had bad intentions when pursuing you. 

As a citizen of the United States, you have certain civil rights. If you think the police violated these rights by prosecuting you maliciously, you may receive compensation. While winning a malicious compliance case is not necessarily easy, demanding respect for your civil rights may help you clear your name.

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Sivin & Miller, LLP Attorneys at Law
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New York, NY 10007

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