Malicious Prosecution: Everything You Need to Know, from A to Z

By being charged with a crime they did not commit, an innocent person’s life can be destroyed in the blink of an eye. Malicious prosecution occurs when someone files a lawsuit against another person without probable cause. The innocent victim is then dragged through civil and/or criminal court, and forced to spend their time and their hard-earned money fighting false allegations. Malicious prosecution not only ruins lives, but is abusive and undermining to our judicial process.

Texas Judge Files Malicious Prosecution Lawsuit for Wrongful Conviction

Earlier this year, a Texas judge who was once wrongfully convicted of nine felonies, filed a malicious prosecution lawsuit against the prosecutors involved in her case. Judge Suzanne Wooten was indicted and convicted of nine felonies including bribery, money laundering, and engaging in organized criminal activity. The state offered her 10 years of probation if she resigned as a judge and waived her rights to appeal.

In 2017, after serving half of her probation, a court acquitted her of all charges and declared her innocent. She subsequently filed a civil lawsuit against the prosecutors in the case for malicious prosecution. She claims that the DA’s office conspired to wrongfully indict and prosecute her so she would be removed from the bench because they disagreed with many of her rulings in criminal cases.

Like most malicious prosecution plaintiffs, Wooten experienced unspeakable pain and suffering. She lost her job, her reputation was tarnished, and her civil rights were violated.

Prominent Attorney Accused of Malicious Prosecution 

In another case this year, Trevor Fitzgibbon, the President of Fitzgibbon Media, filed a defamation and malicious prosecution lawsuit against prominent whistleblower attorney, Jesselyn Radack. In 2015, his public relations firm was forced to close after allegations of widespread sexual assault and harassment were published in the Huffington Post. Radack made claims that Fitzgibbon forcibly sexually assaulted her.

Hotel records showed that Fitzgibbon was not in the state during the time of the alleged rape, so he was not prosecuted. Now he is seeking damages of at least $10 million in loss of business, income, pain and suffering, emotional distress and public humiliation.

Proving Malicious Prosecution Is Difficult

Winning a malicious prosecution case is difficult, and requires proof of the following four elements:

  1. The original criminal case was resolved in your favor
  2. The person you are suing was actively involved in the original case
  3. There was no probable cause to file the charges in the first place
  4. The person you are suing pursued the case for improper or malicious purposes

One of the biggest challenges in malicious prosecution cases is prosecutor immunity. Both state and federal laws protect prosecutors and other law enforcement officials from liability for malicious prosecution. There are limits to this immunity, however, and if a prosecutor acted maliciously, they can – and should – be held liable for this abuse of power.

We Can Help Win Your Malicious Prosecution Case 

If you believe that someone has filed criminal charges against you to harass you or cause you harm, we can help. At the McDaniel Law Group, our Washington DC legal team is ready to fight for you and your rights. We know how damaging malicious prosecution can be, as well as the pain and suffering it causes. Contact our experienced Washington DC legal team at (202) 873-9244.