Baldwin & Briscoe P.C.
301-862-4400
22335 Exploration Drive Ste. 2030
Lexington Park, MD 20653
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Malicious Prosecution

 

The legal system is designed to protect those who are wronged and to prevent persons who did not do wrong from suffering adverse consequences as a result of wrongful accusations.  Sometimes, however, individuals are charged with committing a crime when in fact they are innocent.  The state has a high burden of proof in criminal cases.  It must prove that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  In some cases, defendants are charged with crimes not because of something that they did, but because the “victim” attempts to use the criminal justice system to make the defendant suffer.    When a person is wrongfully charged with a crime, they may seek to recover against the person who instituted the criminal proceedings.

 

 In a claim for malicious prosecution, the plaintiff must prove the following:

-      That the defendant instituted or continued criminal proceedings against the plaintiff.

-      That the criminal proceedings terminated in favor of the plaintiff, i.e., the accused in the criminal case

-      That the defendant did not have probable cause for the proceeding; and

-      That the defendant instituted the criminal proceedings with malice, or a purpose other than bringing the plaintiff to justice.

 

Criminal proceedings are filed by the state, not by individuals.  It is sufficient for this tort if the defendant directs or requests a prosecution based on information that they know to be false, or if the person withholds information which a reasonable person would realize might affect the decision to prosecute.  Liability also arises where the person gives inaccurate information to a police or prosecutor.  In addition, a person can be liable for malicious prosecution if that person learns of information that destroys the probable cause for the prosecution after proceedings have been commenced, but fails to come forward and give that information to the prosecutor.

 

Termination of proceedings in favor of the accused may be the result of the dismissal of the charges at a preliminary hearing, the entry of a nolle prosequi by the state’s attorney or a not guilty verdict from a judge or jury.

 

The absence of probable cause means that the defendant in a malicious prosecution case acted without any reasonable grounds to believe that the plaintiff was guilty.  A plaintiff can prove malice by showing that the defendant filed charges with a purpose other than bringing the accused to justice.  Just because the state enters a nolle prosequi, however, does not mean that probable cause is lacking.  The question of whether probable cause existed for the filing of the criminal charges is one that must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

 

Malice is shown when the defendant had a wrongful or improper motive for instituting criminal proceedings against the plaintiff.  It may be, but is not necessarily based on spite, hatred, personal enmity or a desire for revenge.  In a claim for malicious prosecution, the plaintiff must prove something more than mere negligence on the part of the defendant.  A lack of probable cause by itself may be sufficient to show malice.

 

In a malicious prosecution case, the plaintiff can recover both compensatory and punitive damages.  If you have been the victim of malicious prosecution, we’d be happy to discuss the specifics of your case with you.

 

 

The information contained on this page is provided as general information and does not constitute legal advice.  The experienced attorneys at Baldwin & Briscoe, P.C. can assist you if you have, or believe you may have, a claim for malicious prosecution.  We’d be happy to sit down with you and review your situation and provide appropriate advice.  Call today for a no-obligation consultation.  There is no consultation fee for cases involving personal injury.

 

 

The Law Offices of Baldwin & Briscoe, P.C. also offers these services:

Bankruptcy and ForeclosureBusiness LawCivil LitigationCriminal DefenseEmployment, Disability, and Consumer RightsFamily LawGovernment Contracts LawIntellectual Property, Personal InjuryReal Estate, Social Security Disability & Workers’ Compensation and Wills, Trusts, & Estates

Contact Us

The Law Offices of Baldwin, Briscoe & Steinmetz, P.C.

22335 Exploration Drive

Suite 2030

Lexington Park, MD 20653

301-862-4400 Phone

301-862-3009 Fax

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Our Attorneys

Samuel C.P. Baldwin, Jr., Esq.

Janice Briscoe, Esq.

Richard J. Steinmetz Jr., Esq.

David J. Hebb, Esq.

Sandra Kaufman Jonasen, Esq.


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With an office conveniently located in Lexington Park, The Law Offices of Baldwin, Briscoe & Stienmetz, P.C. serves clients in the counties and cities of Lexington Park, Leonardtown, Hollywood, Mechanicsville, Loveville, Helen, Breton Bay, Chaptico, Charlotte Hall, Golden Beach, Avenue, La Plata, Waldorf, Newburg, Port Tobacco, Port Charles, Solomons Island, Prince Frederick, Chesapeake Shores, Hughesville, Benedict, Nanjemoy, Lusby, Port Republic, St. Mary's County, Charles County, Calvert County, Prince George's County, Southern Maryland.


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