Zealous authorities often pursue criminal defendants with aggressive tactics that are intended to wear down defenses and to win convictions. Authorities have a right to pursue their cases, but only if their tactics do not cross the line into malicious prosecution. Defining where that line exists, however, can be a difficult challenge.

What Are the Elements of a Malicious Prosecution Claim?

The laws in New York State set a relatively high bar for proving that you were the victim of malicious prosecution. To make your case as strong as possible, you need a New York City civil rights lawyer on your side with the resources and experience to show that the following took place:

1. First, the defendant must have caused or commenced a criminal case against you, the aggrieved party;

2. Second, that case must have ended in your favor;

3. Third, the person charged with malicious prosecution must have lacked probable cause for initiating the criminal complaints; and

4. Fourth, that person must have initiated the complaint with malice or gross and reckless disregard of the facts.

Who May Be Liable for Malicious Prosecution?

Authorities may be liable for malicious prosecution when they commit extreme misconduct, such as hiding evidence that exonerates a defendant. 

Detectives, police and the local or state government may be liable for malicious prosecution if they pursue criminal charges with no probable cause. “Probable cause” has been interpreted under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to mean that the police have a reasonable basis for believing that a crime has been committed or when evidence of a crime is present at a location that is subject to a valid search.  

What Evidence Is Needed to Prove Malicious Prosecution? 

Criminal prosecutions cannot go forward without a grand jury or other valid indictment. The transcript of grand jury proceedings is, therefore, the starting point to gather evidence for a malicious prosecution claim. A skilled civil rights attorney will review that transcript to determine what information was presented to or withheld from a grand jury and to assess whether any witnesses lied in their grand jury testimony. 

A criminal prosecution that proceeds based on a faulty grand jury indictment will be a strong basis for a malicious prosecution claim.

What Damages are Available for Malicious Prosecution Claims?

Victims of malicious prosecution are eligible to seek monetary compensation for a variety of losses and damages, including:

  • Mental suffering and anguish
  • Loss of reputation 
  • Lost wages and employment opportunities, past, present, and future
  • Medical expenses resulting from the negative impact on your physical health and well-being

In particularly egregious cases, a victim may even be entitled to punitive damages.  

Choose a Civil Rights Law Firm You Can Trust

If you believe you or a loved one were the victim of malicious prosecution, the New York City civil rights law firm of Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb, Green & Bagley, P.C. is ready and able to hear your side of the story and give you all the information you need to decide if pursuing a lawsuit is the right next step.

All initial consultations are free of charge, and you never owe us a fee unless we win your case. We take pride in standing up for people whose civil rights are violated by prosecutors and law enforcement personnel who breach the limits of legal conduct in trying to get a conviction.

Call today to speak with a New York City civil rights attorney about whether you have a valid claim for malicious prosecution.