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Malicious Prosecution

Malicious prosecution occurs when the government wrongfully subjects someone to the criminal justice process without proper cause. This is considered a serious breach not only because of wasted resources and misdirected legal energy but also because of the violation of the defendant’s rights. It leads to unwarranted stress and significant emotional and reputational damage – and possibly even prison time.

Recognizing instances of malicious prosecution is important, as it helps protect one’s personal rights and preserves the integrity of the legal system in general.

Recognizing Malicious Prosecution

Malicious prosecution is when legal action is initiated with improper motivations – usually meant to intimidate, harass, or defame an individual. In such instances, the wrongly accused party may file a civil lawsuit seeking damages for reputation harm, litigation costs, and other losses.

This is different from false arrest. False arrest refers to being taken into custody by law enforcement without probable cause or a warrant. Malicious prosecution stems from a prosecutor’s conduct where they have wrongfully initiated, maintained, or pursued a criminal charge against a person.

What Are the Signs of Malicious Prosecution?

Malicious prosecution may be hard to prove, but there are some signs to look out for. Here are some key indicators:

Improper Motive

To demonstrate that improper motives are at the root of prosecution, your lawyer will look to uncover evidence that suggests a link between the accuser’s actions and factors beyond just pursuing justice.

This could include presenting correspondence like emails or text messages indicating bias against you, establishing a connection between the accuser and some form of benefit they’ll receive from your conviction, or uncovering a pattern of similar inappropriate actions by the prosecutor in other cases.

Fabrication of Evidence

Any intentional falsification or enhancement of evidence suggests that the primary motive behind prosecution isn’t to uphold justice but to secure a conviction by any means necessary. Fabrication can occur in various forms, including tampering with physical evidence, coercing witnesses for advantageous testimonies, or altering documents.

Failure to Conduct a Proper Investigation

If the prosecution or law enforcement did not investigate the crime thoroughly or even deliberately withheld exculpatory evidence in the case, this could point to malicious prosecution.

Use of Coerced Testimony

Coerced testimony can heavily damage a defendant’s case and the fairness of the trial process. It happens when witnesses are pressured, threatened, or manipulated into giving information that may not be accurate. Unethical tactics used might include threatening legal action against them if they don’t comply with what prosecutors want them to say.

Successive or Repeated Prosecution

If the defendant is repeatedly prosecuted for the same offense, despite previous acquittals or lack of evidence, this could indicate a pursuit to harass rather than to convict based on solid evidence.

Significant Public or Private Benefits to the Prosecutor

If the prosecutor stands to gain professionally, financially, or personally from securing a conviction, this raises questions about their motivations.

If you suspect that your criminal case resulted from ulterior motives rather than a pursuit of justice, it may qualify as malicious prosecution. The best way to make this determination is to speak with a  criminal defense lawyer.

Steps to Take if You’re a Victim of Malicious Prosecution

Facing malicious prosecution is incredibly disruptive and distressing, and knowing how to respond is critical. Here’s what you should do:

Maintain Detailed Records

Thoroughly document everything you’ve been through, from court proceedings to interactions you’ve had that reveal malicious intent. Documentation will be extremely important when proving the elements of your case.

Secure Legal Representation

Working with a criminal defense attorney to handle claims resulting from malicious prosecution is critical in safeguarding your rights and developing a solid defense against your charges – as well as a case against the prosecutor if you decide to go in that direction.

File a Complaint

Filing a formal complaint with the appropriate authorities is an option. For instance, you may file complaints against a prosecutor by reaching out to their supervisor or the bar association if they’ve engaged in unethical practices.

Seek a Dismissal

In response to ongoing malicious charges, your lawyer’s immediate goal will be to get the criminal charges against you dismissed. Your lawyer will aggressively work towards clearing your name and getting your case thrown out.

Consider a Civil Suit

If there is enough evidence to show malicious prosecution, you may consider pursuing a civil lawsuit against those responsible. This could provide the financial compensation needed to cover resulting losses such as lawyer fees, lost wages, and damage to your reputation.

Contact a Phoenix Criminal Defense Attorney If You’re a Victim of Malicious Prosecution

If you believe you’ve been a victim of malicious prosecution, it’s crucial to obtain legal advice as soon as possible. Contact us today at (480) 656-7301 to schedule a free consultation with a Phoenix criminal defense lawyer.

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