When you’re the target of a mean-spirited individual who wants to make your life more difficult, it might sometimes feel as though you have no control. However, there are legal techniques that may assist people by defending them against malicious prosecution allegations.
Let’s look at what constitutes malicious prosecution in California, starting with the definition. To begin, let’s clarify what malicious prosecution is in California.
What is Malicious Prosecution in California?
Malicious prosecution is the legal or civil case that is filed with no basis and for an improper cause, such as harassment, tarnishing another person’s reputation, or intentionally placing the blame on someone other than the actual wrongdoer.
If the charges are dropped as a result of such a complaint, the defendant may sue for malicious prosecution and seek financial compensation. The purpose of this legislation is to protect against and correct judicial abuse.
Example of Malicious Prosecution
A county prosecutor runs for mayor and loses. He feels that a local businessman who is active in politics was responsible for his defeat.
After the businessman is arrested, the prosecutor becomes preoccupied with the notion that he cost him his election. When doubts arise about the businessman’s crossover between business and politics, the prosecutor seizes his chance to accuse and charge him with attempting to buy public officials.
The man’s attorneys were able to show that there was no evidence to support the charges and that the case was simply a vendetta. The prosecutor takes the lead role in the case, and after time, his defense team is able to prove that there was no basis for the accusations.
Charges are dropped after months of investigation and numerous trials before a criminal court judge, but only after several months of legal wrangling. The entrepreneur pays thousands of dollars in attorney fees and profits his firm money.
The prosecutor may be sued for malicious prosecution. The businessman can sue the prosecutor on the grounds that he abused his legal powers and authority as a district attorney.
The individual may claim compensation for the losses he incurred as a result of the criminal case, such as being kept in jail for several days, the cost of defending against the charges, lost business due to missed work, and damage to his reputation in the neighborhood.
To summarize, the California tort of malicious prosecution is a civil lawsuit intended to punish people who bring meritless claims that lead to injury.
However, in order to establish these causes of action, the plaintiff must show evidence of certain facts.
What are the elements of this cause of action?
There are four main elements for a malicious prosecution suit in California:
- Lack of Probable Cause: When it’s clear that a claim is being made for an improper reason or without cause, there’s no basis to support it. This is looked at on a case-by-case basis to see if the claim was filed against someone who should not be named in a lawsuit.
- Malice or Malicious Intent: The litigant who filed the meritless lawsuit did so with bad intentions, not simply by accident. Accidentally naming the wrong person in a lawsuit would not imply spite.
- Winning the Frivolous Lawsuit: In malicious prosecution, the plaintiff must show that he or she won the prior lawsuit at least as to any claims asserted in the new case (“favorable termination”).
- Legal Damages: Both economic and non-economic compensatory damages are considered, and they must be proved in court.
It is critical for an injured person to establish all of the elements of his or her case. A loss at trial may occur if any one of the components in this claim’s foundation is not proven. However, before bringing a claim for malicious prosecution, there is something you must consider.