An officer must have probable cause to prosecute a suspect for criminal offenses. If an officer does not, and his or her motives are malicious, the suspect may have a claim for malicious prosecution against that officer, which is a violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Often, malicious prosecution takes the form of altering or exaggerating facts in a police report or an affidavit of probable cause, both of which are used by a prosecutor to bring charges against a suspect. When that officer knowingly – and with malice – presents those false or exaggerated facts to a judicial magistrate or prosecutor, the party injured as a result can bring a lawsuit to collect damages for his or her jail time, lost wages, and any other pain and suffering as a result.
To prove Fourth Amendment malicious prosecution, a Plaintiff must show he or she (1) was prosecuted; (2) without probable cause; (3) with malice; (4) pursuant to a valid warrant or other accusatory papers; (5) the prosecution terminated in the his or her favor; and (6) the prosecution caused damage. Proving an officer lied or exaggerated facts in a police report can prove extremely difficult, especially when it is a “he said she said” scenario.
A Fourth Amendment claim for fabrication of evidence is similar – when an officer or other person acting on behalf of the government fabricates evidence in order to harm you, you can sue for damages. That harm typically comes in the way of an arrest, criminal charges, jail time, and any resulting economic and personal damages.
If you have been the victim of malicious prosecution, or if you have been harmed by the government fabricating evidence against you, contact us for a case evaluation with a civil rights attorney: