Phillips & Associates

Malicious Prosecution

New York City Lawyers for Individuals Subjected to Prosecutorial Misconduct

A malicious prosecution is a criminal proceeding initiated with improper motivation or in bad faith. Malicious prosecution in a criminal case can have devastating consequences for an individual, including loss of freedom, financial penalties, and a ruined reputation. At Phillips & Associates, our civil rights attorneys can assist people victimized by prosecutorial misconduct throughout New York City.

Proving a Malicious Prosecution Case

Some people assume the prosecutor only enters the picture after an arrest, but in many cases, the prosecutor directs the police to make an arrest. Prosecutors are the people in the government who determine whom to seek charges against and what charges will be filed. A civil lawsuit is one of the most important deterrents in place to prevent prosecutorial misconduct because a lawsuit brings necessary public and judicial attention to the problem.

Malicious prosecution cases are not appropriate in the case of benign misjudgments. Public policy favors the pursuit of criminals to bring them to justice, and so a mistake or a good faith prosecution, even if it is mistaken, cannot be the subject of a malicious prosecution lawsuit. Instead, malicious prosecution lawsuits are appropriate to address grave injustice due to the perversion of appropriate procedures. In a malicious prosecution case, you would need to show that the criminal proceeding was started without probable cause and the proceeding terminated in your favor either through dismissal or a not guilty verdict.

In other words you must prove that the defendant commenced or continued a prior criminal proceeding, the prior proceeding terminated in your favor, there was no probable cause for the initiation of the prior criminal proceeding, and there was actual malice.

Probable cause is a complex concept. For purposes of malicious prosecution, it means that there were facts and circumstances that would lead a reasonably prudent person faced with similar circumstances to conclude that the plaintiff was guilty of the alleged acts. If the facts related to probable cause, and the inferences that can be drawn are undisputed, whether or not there was probable cause can be determined as a matter of law. This means some of these lawsuits are particularly vulnerable to summary judgment motions.

Whether an action terminated favorably can be confusing for a layperson. A proceeding that terminates without regard to its merits due to an agreement or settlement of the parties, or solely because of a trick or favor, or due to some other device preventing action and consideration, is not an action that terminated favorably. Instead, there must be a termination based on the merits, or on the propriety of the proceedings, or by a dismissal or discontinuance based on the plaintiff's consent.

Consult a New York City Attorney after a Civil Rights Violation

Malicious prosecution cases are often quite challenging not only because the elements are hard to prove but also because the government often will rally behind its own officers. At Phillips & Associates, our civil rights lawyers offer experienced representation for individuals in New York City whose rights have been infringed, from Staten Island and Manhattan to Brooklyn and Queens. Call us at (212) 248-7431 or contact us through our online form.

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