Supreme Court Ruling Addresses Malicious Prosecution in Criminal Cases

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hartford criminal defense lawyerPeople who are charged with crimes can face a number of difficulties as they navigate the criminal justice system, and unfortunately, many defendants are treated unfairly by law enforcement officials and prosecutors. There are multiple ways that these officials can abuse the system, including by filing criminal charges against a person in retaliation for asserting their rights or to justify illegal actions by police officers. This is known as “malicious prosecution,” and it can often place people in a difficult position as they fight against what can seem like a rigged system. Fortunately, a recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court may help limit these types of actions and ensure that defendants can protect their rights.

Fourth Amendment Protections Against Malicious Prosecution

For years, courts have been divided on the issue of whether the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects people against criminal consequences, such as arrest or imprisonment, that are based on false statements or omitted facts by police officers or prosecutors. In a recent ruling, the Supreme Court determined that people who have been subject to malicious prosecution can pursue civil lawsuits against those who were responsible in cases where charges are dropped or when they are acquitted.

The case in question, Thompson v. Clark, involved a man in Brooklyn, New York who was charged with resisting arrest. He and his wife had a newborn daughter, and they also lived with the wife’s sister, who had developmental disabilities. The sister had called the police and reported that the man had sexually abused his child. When EMTs and police officers arrived at the apartment following the call, the man refused to allow them to enter without a search warrant. The officers then tackled the man, handcuffed him, and conducted a search of the apartment without a warrant, and to justify these actions, they charged him with resisting arrest. The man was held in police custody for two days. When no evidence of abuse was found, prosecutors chose to drop the charges.

The man pursued a civil lawsuit for malicious prosecution, stating that his arrest and confinement were performed as retaliation for his assertion of his Fourth Amendment rights against illegal search and seizure. Initially, an appeals court ruled against him, stating that he could not claim malicious prosecution since his case ended with charges being dropped rather than receiving an acquittal or another “affirmative indication of innocence.” However, the Supreme Court reversed this decision, finding that in any cases where charges are filed without probable cause for a purpose other than bringing a person to justice, and the case ends without a conviction, the person may pursue a lawsuit based on malicious prosecution.

Contact Our Hartford Criminal Law Attorney

Defendants in criminal cases often struggle to receive fair treatment, and police officers and prosecutors may abuse the system in many ways. In cases where criminal charges are filed based on lies or omissions by law enforcement officials, or when a person faces retaliation simply because they have taken action to protect their rights, it is crucial to be represented by a skilled and experienced attorney. To learn how Woolf Law Firm, LLC can help you defend against criminal charges in these cases, contact our Connecticut criminal defense lawyer at 860-290-8690 and set up a complimentary consultation.

Sources:

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2022/04/the-supreme-court-malicious-prosecutions-dishonest-cops.html

https://www.oyez.org/cases/2021/20-659


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