Lawsuits for False Accusations and Wrongful Arrest
“You’re under arrest” are three words that carry consequences more than being locked up, taken to jail, fingerprinted, and a mugshot for everyone to see.
Former Secretary of Labor Raymond Donovan, after being found not guilty of criminal charges, asked the surrounding media throng on the courthouse steps, “Which office do I go to get my reputation back?”
He had suffered through improper assertions of guilt by “legal experts” on TV, many of whom seemed to have forgotten the Presumption of Innocence and the substantial Burden of Proof imposed upon prosecutors.
Mr. Donovan had only been indicted by the Grand Jury, but in large measure found “guilty in the court of public opinion.”
Even if the charges are ultimately thrown out, dismissed, or you are found not guilty, being accused of a crime can forever tarnish your good name and reputation in the community.
As such, it’s reasonable for someone who is falsely accused of criminal charges to ask:
- Can I sue someone for falsely accusing me?
- Can I file suit against someone for making false allegations against me?
- How do I get my charges expunged?
- What is Malicious Prosecution?
- What is Abuse of Process?
- Do the NC Libel and Slander Laws apply to false accusations?
- Are the legal remedies for false arrest, false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution?
Frankly, the answer to all the above is, “It depends.”
"Legal liability for false imprisonment cases deserves a careful analysis of the background circumstances of the charges. They tend to be complicated legal issues."
- Bill Powers
If you believe you were falsely accused, the facts and circumstances of your case, as well as the final disposition of the charges, can make all the difference in the world.
Call the Powers Law Firm PA today to schedule your free consultation 704-342-4357
You may also reach Bill Powers personally by emailing: Bill@CarolinaAttorneys.comMalicious Prosecution Lawsuits in North Carolina
In order to recover damages in a case alleging malicious prosecution, the Plaintiff carries the Burden of Proof to the legal standard of a Preponderance of Evidence that the Defendant:
- Initiated the prior proceeding (criminal charges, felony or misdemeanor)
- With Malice (Maliciously)
- Without Probable Cause
- The criminal charges are ended/terminated in favor of the Plaintiff
- a. Charges Dismissed
- b. Charges Thrown Out
- c. Criminal Defendant found “Not Guilty” or adjudicated innocent
The absence of Probable Cause and malice must take place before legal liability for damages attaches.
If the defendant in a civil lawsuit knows the plaintiff is innocent, probable cause cannot exist and the defendant may be held legally liable even if there exists independent evidence that may create reasonable suspicion of guilt.
Probable cause necessitates circumstances and facts sufficient that a reasonable person may have suspicion of guilt, prompting that reasonable person, exercising due regard for the rights of another, to commence prosecution/initiate proceedings.
Generally speaking, probable cause cannot be defended by evidence that is discovered later.
The Defendant’s actions and the reasonableness of making allegations, are judged reviewing the “totality of the circumstances” known to the Defendant at the time she or he initiated the criminal charges or proceeding.What are Damages for Malicious Prosecution?
If you lost your job because of a False Accusation or Wrongful Arrest, that is relatively straightforward. Lost wages and loss of earning capacity are a types of compensable damages.
Compensatory damages may also involve things like:
- Loss of Benefits
- Loss of Retirement
- Attorney Fees (both for the Criminal Defense Attorney and Plaintiff’s Lawyers, as they may exist)
- Costs for Expert Witnesses, Investigators, and Trial Preparation
- Costs for Posting Bond / Making Bail
- Costs for Medical Care, Treatment associated with Emotional Distress Claims (Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress)
Compensation for loss of your good name and reputation in the community can be more difficult to establish through the evidence.
In appropriate circumstances for willful, wanton, and intentional conduct, punitive damages may be possible.
It’s important to note, legal defenses exist to wrongful arrest lawsuits that may apply to both law enforcement acting in their official capacity and alleged “victims” who proceed in initiating charges.
If probable cause to arrest exists, a lawsuit for malicious prosecution and abuse of process would likely fail. That’s also true if you plead guilty to criminal charges and/or are found guilty.
Certain deferred prosecution programs and conditional discharge pleas, even if the charges are dismissed, may result in the waiver to recover pursuant to a civil lawsuit.Lawyers Who Handle False Accusation Charges in Charlotte
If you have questions about your legal rights and believe you have been falsely accused or charged, our team of criminal defense and civil Plaintiff’s attorneys are available for legal consultation.
Related Legal Issues and Topics of Interest
"It is a multi-step process. We first look to see if there is a legitimate legal basis to get the charges dismissed. Thereafter, careful consideration is given to whether legal grounds exist for a civil lawsuit."
- Bill Powers