malicious prosecution

What Malicious Prosecution Is – A Comprehensive Guide

If a criminal or civil case is unjustly prosecuted, then the defendant in such case could turn around and file a lawsuit against the complainant for malicious prosecution. For a comprehensive explanation, let us check out Elements of a Malicious Prosecution Claim by Ross Law to have a clearer idea of what malicious prosecution is.


Malicious prosecution is a legal claim involving a wrongful lawsuit, which allows a wrongfully-sued defendant to bring an action and recover damages against a plaintiff who sued the defendant without proper cause.

Malicious prosecutions occur for a variety of reasons, including a plaintiff’s desire for unjustified revenge, attempts to shut down competing businesses, and wrongful efforts to force a defendant to cooperate or change behavior in order to avoid incurring costly legal fees. In short, malicious prosecution involves the wrongful use of the justice system to punish, harass, or oppress another person.

Suing someone for improper personal reasons, without legal justification, is not just morally wrong, it’s illegal, and malicious prosecution is one of the ways defendants receive justice when a lawsuit is wrongfully filed against them.

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If the respondent (the individual against whom the criminal complaint is filed) in a complaint wins, which indicates the dismissal of the complaint, is the respondent permitted to payment by the plaintiff (the individual who filed the complaint)?

Usually, the respondent isn’t entitled to the damages payment if the complaint is dismissed. This method looks wrong seeing that the respondent, in defending his or her case, likely employed and spent thousands for an attorney to defend the lawsuit. On the other hand, every individual has the right in filing a complaint about the compensation of grievances.

The mere complaint filing doesn’t authorize the respondent to monetary damages. Otherwise, the Supreme Court stated that non-violent recourse to the courts are going to be discouraged and the use of one’s right to sue would become empty and meaningless.

To prove a malicious prosecution claim, these are the things you ought to know from Malicious Prosecution by FindLaw.

The Elements of a Malicious Prosecution Claim

Courts generally agree on the elements required for a malicious prosecution claim, but some states combine elements or arrange them differently. The six elements of this claim are as follows:

  • The institution or continuation of a civil or criminal legal proceeding against the plaintiff;
  • By, or abetted by, the defendant (the prosecutor or plaintiff in the malicious action);
  • Termination of the prior proceeding in favor of the plaintiff (for instance, the case was dismissed);
  • Absence of probable cause for instituting the prior proceeding;
  • Malice as the primary purpose for the prior action; and
  • Injury or damage to the plaintiff as a result of the prior action.
malicious prosecution
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In order to grasp more what the terms is, AllLaw’s What is a Malicious Prosecution Claim? has examples provided in their article.

  • A bank was successfully sued for malicious prosecution after its employees intentionally gave false information to the public prosecutor about the criminal defendant’s (now the malicious prosecution plaintiff) supposedly illegal banking activities.
  • When a defendant admitted that he did not know who actually stole his property, that admission proved he had the plaintiff arrested for an improper motive, leading to a successful malicious prosecution claim.
  • When a defendant testified that he had a criminal affidavit filed against the plaintiff simply in order to collect a debt from the plaintiff, the plaintiff’s malicious prosecution lawsuit was successful because the defendant used the criminal process for an improper purpose.
  • A police officer did not give all of the facts when he obtained an arrest warrant on the plaintiff for possession of illegal hypodermic needles. When there was no proof that the plaintiff was using the needles for illegal purposes, the plaintiff successfully sued for malicious prosecution.

Though, the respondent could claim damages for malicious prosecution in a civil case. The culprit isn’t the submission of the criminal complaint, yet the intentional initiation of an action knows that the charges were groundless and false.

The respondent could successfully claim for monetary damages against the plaintiff if these are demonstrated by enough evidence: (1) the plaintiff caused prosecution in the complaint; (2) the accused was acquitted, or the criminal action was dismissed; (3) in bringing the action the plaintiff had not probable cause; (4) the plaintiff was encouraged by legal malice — a sinister or an improper motive — in suing.