New York Civil Rights And Criminal Defense Lawyers

Understanding malicious prosecution in New York

On Behalf of | Friday Jun 10, 2022 | Criminal Defense

A person in New York can file a lawsuit against you to defame, harass, intimidate or injure you emotionally or psychologically for no absolute reason. If that’s what is happening to you right now, keep reading to learn more about how you can protect yourself.

What is malicious prosecution?

Malicious prosecution is when someone brings a baseless lawsuit to scare or injure you in one way or another. Of course, these suits often fail, but they will definitely cause you damage. For instance, you’ll lose money in attorney fees and waste your time proving your innocence even though they know that you did nothing wrong, and it can severely damage your reputation.

Elements of malicious prosecution

To establish a malicious prosecution claim in New York, you must prove four elements:

1. A criminal proceeding against you – There must have been a state court criminal case or grand jury proceedings against you. If you were never arrested or charged with a crime, for example, if the police merely threatened you with a lawsuit, then you cannot bring a malicious prosecution claim.

2. Lack of probable cause – You must prove that there was no probable cause for the criminal proceeding against you. Probable cause exists when the police have enough evidence to believe that a crime has been committed and that the person they have arrested or charged with the crime is likely the one who committed it.

3. Actual malice – You must also show that there is actual malice on the defendant’s part. This means that the person who initiated or continued the criminal proceeding against you did so with the intent to harm you.

4. Termination of proceeding in your favor – Lastly, you must prove that the criminal proceeding against you was ultimately terminated in your favor. In other words, you were either the court acquitted you of the charges, or they were dismissed. If you are convicted of the crime, then you cannot bring a successful malicious prosecution claim.

If you can prove all four of these elements, then you may be able to recover damages from the person who initiated or continued the criminal proceeding against you. These damages can include compensation for your legal fees, as well as damages for your emotional distress.