Malicious Prosecution

Protecting the rights of those wrongfully accused in Philadelphia, New Jersey, and the surrounding states requires knowledge of law enforcement and the criminal justice system. At Wimmer Criminal Defense, PC, attorney Lauren A. Wimmer has consistently achieved results for clients in a wide range of criminal cases and has used that to her advantage to obtain just and favorable outcomes in subsequent state and federal proceedings against the city or county that initially filed the charges and the individual officers.

A malicious prosecution claim is often brought after the client receives a favorable verdict in state criminal proceedings. In other words, the client is either found “not guilty” after a trial or the client is found guilty at trial and their conviction is overturned after seeking relief pursuant to the Post-Conviction Relief Act (link to PCRA blog). This is because the client must plead and prove that the criminal proceeding ended in his favor, that is, the criminal proceeding ended in a manner that indicates the client’s innocence.

A malicious prosecution may violate the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution creating a federal law claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. To establish a malicious prosecution claim under § 1983, the plaintiff must prove a violation of his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable seizures. For purposes of a § 1983 malicious prosecution claim, the elements include:

  1. the defendant initiated a criminal proceeding;
  2. the criminal proceeding ended in his favor;
  3. the defendant initiated the proceeding without probable cause; that is, without a “fair probability” that the plaintiff committed the crime at issue;
  4. the defendant acted maliciously or for a purpose other than bringing the plaintiff to justice; and
  5. the plaintiff suffered deprivation of liberty consistent with the concept of seizure as a consequence of the legal proceeding

Malicious prosecution claims are often filed at the same time as claims for false arrest and false imprisonment. However, unlike false arrest or false imprisonment, a claim for malicious prosecution permits the plaintiff to collect damages for the amount of time they spent imprisoned or confined in jail. Call Wimmer Criminal Defense at (215) 712-1212 to discuss your rights today and to determine if filing a claim for malicious prosecution is right for you.