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Mississippi Lawyer Blog

What is Malicious Prosecution?

file0001305562393.jpgWhen someone is wrongfully charged and prosecuted for a crime, what are the consequences? We're fortunate to live in a nation that provides extensive protection for our personal liberties. Where malicious prosecution is concerned, there are two particulars that you should know about:

  • The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects you and your property from unreasonable seizure, meaning without a warrant. It also states that a warrant will not be issued without probable cause.
  • The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution states that you have a right to your life, your liberty, and your property, and none of those things can be taken from you without due process.

If action was taken against you without probable cause and with the intent to cause personal injury, we refer to that as "malice" in legal terms. At the very core of this issue is the other person's desire to take away your liberty, which is illegal, according to the fourteenth amendment.

This type of situation can cause a wide variety of complications for the person on the receiving end. You'll probably miss time from work, incur legal fees, and experience a variety of other financial consequences. You may also experience problems that have nothing to do with your finances, such as harm to your personal reputation and strain on your relationships with your loved ones.

If you have found yourself in this situation, you should know that you have options for recourse. You don't have to simply accept the damage that has been done to your personal and professional life. Speak with an attorney as soon as possible.

Malicious Prosecution as it Relates to the Prosecutor of Your Case

When someone has been incorrectly accused of committing a crime, it's natural for that person to feel hurt and angry. For most people in this situation, it's not enough to know that the arrest and prosecution records have been wiped clean. One very frequently asked question is "can I sue the prosecution for filing charges against me?"

The answer to that question depends heavily on the details of your specific case. As a general rule, however, filing suit against a district attorney (or similar government attorney) is an extremely challenging task. That's not to say it's an insurmountable task, but the lawyer in question would have to have committed a very egregious offense.

Malicious Prosecution Can Be a Form of Police Misconduct

As soon as a police officer charges or arrests you for committing a crime, prosecution has been initiated. It's extremely important that you understand this, for a number of reasons. You should also know your rights if you do find yourself in this situation.

First and foremost, know that if you ask to leave and you are not permitted to do so, then you have been arrested. This is true even if you are not actually being charged with a crime. If you are detained without good reason (which should be very clearly explained to you), you may be experiencing what is known as false imprisonment. While false imprisonment is a separate issue, the underlying concept does support your malicious prosecution case.


Again, prosecution begins as soon as you are arrested; if that prosecution began without justifiable cause, you may be able to argue that you have been maliciously prosecuted.

Malicious prosecution involving law enforcement might also fall under Federal Civil Rights 42 U.S.C. 1983, which states that anyone who deprives you of your rights and privileges as a Unites States citizen will be held liable for the damage that is done to your personal life.

You can find options for recourse in state court, as well. For example, you may have a valid state court claim if a store owner or security guard has taken action against you for theft in the absence of probable cause and with the purpose of harming you in some way. Another state court action that you should be aware of in this situation is Abuse of Process, because it often goes hand in hand with malicious prosecution cases.

The fact that you have successfully defended yourself against criminal charges does not automatically mean that you have been maliciously prosecuted. If there was even a remotely viable reason for officers and the prosecution to believe that you had committed the crime, you will not be successful in bringing a civil suit against them.

If you believe that charges have been brought against you with the purpose of intentionally harming you, it's best to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. Contact the skilled and proven team at Coxwell & Associates, PLLC at (601) 948-1600 for a free initial consultation.

Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

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