In South Carolina, you have a right to go about your business without being harassed or intimidated. However, there are occasions when a person may have civil or criminal charges brought against him or her for just that reason. Malicious prosecution occurs when someone files a lawsuit against you to falsely accuse you of an offense. You should know when you can sue for this crime.
What is malicious prosecution?
This is a crime that occurs when someone deliberately initiates a legal claim or lawsuit against another party while knowing that the action is purely malicious. It doesn’t matter whether the litigation is criminal or civil. If a person knowingly starts legal action against someone else to intimidate or damage his or her reputation or that of his or her business, it’s illegal. The victim can suffer very real damages that can be financial and emotional.
A person who is the target of malicious prosecution can recover compensation if he or she can prove there is a lack of probable cause, and malicious intent was the purpose. For example, if a business owner engages in malicious prosecution to try and put a competitor out of business and succeeds, this is a valid reason for the competitor to fight back.
What are the elements of a malicious prosecution claim?
Certain elements must be in place to prove a malicious prosecution claim. If they can be proven, the defendant requires a strong criminal defense strategy. The elements include:
- A legal claim was started against the plaintiff.
- The defendant’s intentions were malicious.
- The case was dismissed or ended.
- The claim lacked probable cause.
- The driving reason behind the claim was malice.
- The claim caused damages to the plaintiff.
Being hit with a malicious prosecution claim can be devastating. It’s important to fight back to protect your rights in that situation.