A malicious prosecution claim may arise when someone has abused our justice system in an attempt to harm you. If they caused a false criminal charge to be filed against you or made up a frivolous lawsuit, you may be able to seek compensation for related expenses and other damages.
Elements of Malicious Prosecution
There are several elements you need to show to succeed in your South Carolina malicious prosecution claim:
- A criminal or civil case must have been filed against you.
- The defendant (the person you are seeking damages from) must have filed the case or insisted that the case be filed.
- The case must have resulted in a decision in your favor, meaning you successfully defended yourself against the false claim.
- The claim must have been pursued with malice and a lack of probable cause.
Not every lawsuit that gets dismissed will qualify as malicious prosecution. There must be no reasonable basis showing that the case had any merit to begin with, or that it continued after it was clear that there was no evidence to support the case.
A common defense would be that there was probable cause for bringing the case. Alternatively, you can’t bring a malicious prosecution claim if you actually committed the crime or improper act that supported the case. The strength of these defenses will depend on the specific facts of your case.
The easiest damages to determine are the out-of-pocket costs you incurred. These would include the cost of hiring a lawyer to defend yourself, court fees, and any lost wages due to missed time at work.
Other damages are more difficult to calculate. You may ask for compensation for emotional distress and other intangible damages caused by your ordeal. These can vary from case-to-case.
Punitive damages are also a possibility in a malicious prosecution case. These damages can also vary dramatically depending on all of your facts and circumstances.
If you aren’t sure what your potential damages are, talk to a civil litigation attorney. They can tell you what the basic categories of damages are and how they might apply to your case.
King Law Offices is a full-service law firm with an outstanding team of professionals who work diligently, creatively, and compassionately on behalf of our clients each day. We serve the Upstate of South Carolina and Western North Carolina. Call 888-748-KING (5464) today to set up a consultation with one of our dedicated civil litigation attorneys.