Malicious Prosecution Claims in Georgia
Facing a lawsuit is a heavy burden, financially and emotionally, no matter the circumstances of the claim or claims made against you. But imagine defending yourself in a case with no valid basis in the law, or brought for a frivolous, vindictive, or otherwise improper reason. If you have been subjected to a baseless legal claim in a civil or criminal proceeding, you may have a valid case for malicious prosecution, thus turning the tables on the persona or business that wrongfully accused you.Factors Necessary to Make a Claim for Malicious Prosecution
Under Georgia law, malicious prosecution is a claim you can make if you are the victim of a baseless civil lawsuit or criminal case. There are generally four factors necessary to bring a successful claim for malicious prosecution:
- The other person or organization began or continued a criminal or civil legal proceeding against you,
- Without reasonable grounds or probable cause to believe the allegations of the proceeding,
- With a purpose other than simply getting a judgment in the proceeding, and
- The proceeding has terminated in your favor.
The fourth factor is a bit confusing, but basically means you—the future plaintiff alleging malicious prosecution—must first win the lawsuit or criminal case brought against you. (If you did not win, it is difficult to assert the claim or charge against you was frivolous.) Another consideration when it comes to malicious prosecution is that the prosecution or plaintiff may believe he or she has a valid reason to file suit initially, but discover the case cannot be won after it is already begun. If the suing party continues the case anyway for improper reasons, he or she may also be liable for malicious prosecution.
Malicious prosecution differs from malicious, or false, arrest. Although they may sound similar, a claim for false arrest arises when a party is arrested without probable cause and for malicious reasons.Recoverable Damages in a Malicious Prosecution Case
The goal of the Georgia law allowing for malicious prosecution claims is to prevent and address abuse of the legal process. When a malicious prosecution claim is successful, you may recover payment for damages suffered as the result of the legal proceeding forced upon you. Depending on whether the case was criminal or civil, these damages may cover any time spent in jail, the cost of defending the charges, missed work, lost business opportunities, and damage to your reputation in the community. In certain cases, punitive damages may also be available if you can establish that the actions taken against you rise to the level of wilful misconduct, malice or fraud.Contact the Legal Team at KWFDM about Malicious Prosecution
If you believe a civil lawsuit or criminal prosecution was brought against you or a loved one for improper reasons, and not because you committed a wrong or violated the law, please contact the Georgia attorneys at Katz Wright Fleming Dodson & Mildenhall, LLC in Atlanta. We take justice seriously, and do everything we can to uphold the integrity of the legal system. Our attorneys can be reached at 404-460-0101.