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Practice Areas • Practices • Malicious Prosecution, Abuse of Process, and False Arrest

People falsely accused of crimes, and prosecuted as a result, have been severely harmed

Malicious Prosecution

Criminal prosecution is malicious if law enforcement pursues groundless charges. Examples of malicious prosecutions include situations in which law enforcement:

  • charges a person with a crime to cover up police misconduct, such as excessive use of force or false imprisonment;

  • intends to punish a person by harassing them with criminal proceedings;

  • intends to ruin a person’s reputation by bringing unfounded criminal charges against them; or

  • charges a person with a crime to divert attention from the actual perpetrator.

A private person who lies to the police, and causes law enforcement to file false criminal charges, may also be liable for malicious prosecution.

A person forced to defend a groundless civil suit likewise suffers damages and may be able to recover for malicious prosecution.

To recover on a state-law malicious-prosecution claim, an Ohio plaintiff must prove:

(a) malice in instituting or continuing the criminal or civil legal proceeding;

(b) lack of probable cause or reasonable grounds to believe the allegations; and

(c) termination of the prosecution or civil lawsuit in favor of the accused.

Malice is defined as the state of mind under which a person intentionally does a wrongful act with the intent to inflict injury. But courts focus on the lack of probable cause, and malice may be inferred from its absence. Under Ohio law, a plaintiff cannot sue for malicious prosecution unless the underlying process or legal action has been revolved in the accused’s favor.

Relationship to “Abuse of Process” and “False Arrest”

Another tort claim for litigation misconduct is abuse of process. Abuse of process differs from malicious prosecution in that a person can still sue for abuse of process where there were reasonable grounds to pursue the case, but the lawsuit was initiated with an improper or ulterior purpose. For example, trying to tie up property in a divorce proceeding for the purpose of getting the other spouse to agree to different child-visitation rights may constitute abuse of process. Abuse-of-process claims, however, are difficult to prove and rarely successful.

Other available claims include false arrest, which may lie where police arrest someone without probable cause. Probable cause requires that police have reasonable trustworthy information sufficient to warrant an officer of reasonable caution to believe the arrestee committed, or is in the process of committing, an offense. Typically, acting on a warrant is a complete defense to a false-arrest claim.

Malicious Prosecution and False Arrest as a Civil-Rights Violation

In addition to any state-law claims, both malicious (criminal) prosecution and false arrest are recognized as separate violations of a person’s constitutional right against unreasonable searches and seizures protected by the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Therefore, where malicious-prosecution claims involve an arrest or criminal proceeding, plaintiffs may be able to file in either state or federal court.

Proof of malice is not required to succeed on a claim of malicious criminal prosecution under the U.S. Constitution. But here a plaintiff must prove:

(a) criminal prosecution was initiated against the plaintiff and that the defendant made, influenced, or participated in the decision to prosecute;

(b) there was a lack of probable cause for the criminal prosecution;

(c) as a consequence of the legal proceeding, the plaintiff suffered a deprivation of liberty apart from the initial seizure; and

(d) the criminal proceeding was resolved in the plaintiff’s favor.

What To Do If You Believe You Have Been a Victim of Malicious Prosecution

Especially in this class of cases, usually involving an abuse of power or oversight in the justice system, it can be unclear what options are available. With shaken confidence in the efficacy and access to justice provided by the judicial system, it may appear as if there is nowhere else to turn for help.

But this is not the case.

At Chandra Law, we have a passion for standing up for the underdog against what may have initially appeared to be overwhelming opposition. Though trust in the process may have been shaken, and rightfully so, it is essential to trust the assistance available to you. The team responsible for assisting our clients has vast experience in a myriad of cases and has proven time and time again how a seasoned and thorough approach can prove effective when litigation becomes necessary.

If you believe that you have become a victim of malicious prosecution, abuse of process, or a false arrest, acting quickly to mitigate or resolve the often-severe consequences of such abuses of power is essential. The best option in this scenario is to reach out to malicious-prosecutions lawyers and fill them in on the issue you currently face. But even if those responsible for your current or future predicament have made it seem like you have no options and the door has been closed on your case, this is not always true. Even a simple phone call can illuminate the possible courses of action to take and get the ball rolling on finding a solution or favorable resolution.

What Makes the Ideal Civil-Rights Attorney for Malicious Prosecution

A strong civil-rights attorney for malicious prosecution will be able to grasp the circumstances of the situation in which you have found yourself and offer advice based on the knowledge gained over a career of assisting clients just like you. While each case is unique, a vast repertoire of successful strategies and experiences in the courtroom is a solid foundation on which to build any case. Fortunately, our seasoned and dedicated team has experience representing clients like yourself in Ohio and around the country.

Contact The Chandra Law Firm LLC for help

You can reach our firm, which serves clients throughout Ohio and the nation, by calling 216-578-1700 or, preferably, by filling out our online contact form.

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