If you are facing false criminal charges, it can be overwhelming and stressful. Most people do not know how to respond to this type of situation.
Fortunately, you have legal options if you have been brought up on false criminal charges. No two cases are the same. Because of this, the best course of action will depend on the specific circumstances of your false charges case.
If you have been accused, prosecuted, and exonerated, you may wonder, “Can I sue the county for false charges?” Speaking with a skilled legal professional is vital in the aftermath of a false criminal charge.
The trusted legal experts at Morgan & Morgan believe that everyone deserves effective legal representation. A false criminal charge can ruin your reputation, personal relationships, and business prospects.
You should not have to live with the negative consequences of false criminal charges. Morgan & Morgan boasts more than 700 trial-ready attorneys all across the country.
Complete the easy-to-use contact form on our site to schedule a free initial case evaluation. We will assess your circumstances and fight hard for the best outcome for you.
In What Ways Can I Sue the County for False Charges?
If you are hoping to file a lawsuit responding to false criminal charges, there are several legal claims that may be relevant. This is true whether you have been convicted or only falsely charged with the crime.
The most common type of false charge claim is a civil claim citing malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, and/or defamation of character. Depending on the circumstances of your case, one of these claims may be more persuasive than others.
When asking, “Can I sue the county for false charges,” it is important to understand these three distinct legal claims.
It is crucial to note that if you have not been exonerated, these types of lawsuits will not apply to you. Before you can sue for false charges, you must see your case through.
If you are still facing criminal charges, it is best to speak with a criminal defense law firm or public defender. You can decide whether to pursue a lawsuit against your county after the criminal case has concluded.
Can I Sue the County for False Charges and Defamation of Character?
When you have been falsely accused, charged, or prosecuted, your reputation may suffer. Victims of false allegations have the right to pursue compensation for the harmful and untrue statements that damaged their reputation.
There are two primary types of character defamation cases. They are “libel” and “slander.” Both types of claims involve untrue damaging statements.
For a claim of libel to be applicable, the false statements must have been written or otherwise “published.”
To prove libel, the injured need to prove the following two things:
- The defendant defamed the victim
- Others were exposed to the defamatory statements
Nothing else is required for a claim of libel. The law presumes that once a defamatory statement is published, it will remain available for the public for an extended period.
Legally speaking, “publishing” a statement does not only mean writing it. A defamatory statement is published when a third party has seen, read, or heard the statement.
This means that defamation stated on television, on the radio, or in public can be considered “published.” Because another party views or hears the message, the defamation may hurt your reputation.
On the other hand, the claim of slander does not require that the defamatory statement be published. The claimant needs to show that the accused party made a defamatory statement to another individual and that the claimant suffered damages as a result.
In most cases, false criminal accusations are categorized as “slander per se.” This means that certain categories of statements are inherently damaging.
Some of the most common categories of slander per se include:
- False allegations of criminal conduct
- Ascribing certain communicable diseases to the plaintiff
- Harmful statements regarding the person’s business or profession
It can be difficult to pursue a defamation of character lawsuit against the county for false criminal allegations. However, you may not bear the burden of proving that the defamatory accusation resulted in specific damages.
That is because accusations of criminal activity are presumed to be damaging. In defamation of character lawsuits, claimants can pursue many types of damages.
Plaintiffs are not restricted to pursuing compensation for their financial losses. They can also seek recovery for the mental distress and emotional anguish associated with a damaged reputation.
It is important to remember that defamation of character cases rely on the speaking or publishing of untrue statements. If you have been correctly convicted of a crime, you cannot seek damages for defamation of character.
When you ask, “Can I sue the county for false charges?”, it is important to remember that the charges must be false.
If you have faced false criminal charges, another legal option is to pursue a malicious prosecution lawsuit. In some instances, criminal charges are brought to harass, defame, or intimidate the accused party.
Under the law, these cases are classified as “malicious prosecution.” If you have faced malicious prosecution, you might question, “Can I sue the county for false charges?”
This type of claim is often brought against private entities that wrongfully accuse others. However, they can also be brought against prosecutors who have wide discretion over the cases that they pursue.
In order to qualify as a case of malicious prosecution, the accusing party must have knowingly brought false charges. For example, they may have proceeded without probable cause.
If the malicious prosecution took the form of criminal charges, mental stress and other non-monetary damages are usually assumed. The plaintiff does not need to prove that the criminal allegation caused distress.
Malicious prosecution claims involve the following six elements:
- The existence of a criminal proceeding against the claimant
- The proceeding is brought by the defendant
- Termination of the malicious proceeding in favor of the claimant
- Lack of probable cause for the previous criminal proceeding
- Malice as the primary motivation for the criminal charges
- Damage or injury to the plaintiff from the prior proceeding
If you win a malicious prosecution case, you may recover damages for many types of harm. You may be able to recover compensation to cover the costs of:
- Legal fees
- Court fees
- Damaged reputation
- Pain and suffering
- Mental distress
- Loss of future earning potential
You should not have to bear the burden of malicious and false allegations. The skilled team at Morgan & Morgan knows how to effectively recover the money that our clients deserve.
One of the most difficult elements of pursuing a lawsuit against the county is prosecutor immunity. State and federal prosecutors are given immunity from the liability of malicious prosecution.
This is meant to ensure that law enforcement personnel can do their jobs without the constant threat of groundless lawsuits. Without this immunity, each person who is accused of a crime might try to sue the prosecutor.
But prosecutor immunity is not boundless. If the plaintiff can show that the prosecutor acted outside the bounds of their authority, immunity does not cover those actions.
For instance, suppose that a prosecutor was involved in creating false evidence to support their case. Or imagine that a prosecutor paid a witness to present false testimony.
Inappropriate actions like these are outside the bounds of the prosecutor’s role. Therefore, these actions do not qualify for immunity.
Misdeeds like these can make it much easier to pursue action against the county for false charges.
If you were unlawfully imprisoned or detained, you may be able to pursue a false imprisonment lawsuit. This type of civil lawsuit can help you to recover compensation for the damages that you suffered.
Being detained based on false charges might amount to false imprisonment. Unlawful detention happens when someone is detained without “probable cause.”
If you were arrested and charged for a criminal act without probable cause, you have the right to pursue damages in civil court.
False criminal allegations are intimidating. But it is important to remember that you have options when facing false charges.
The skilled legal professionals at Morgan & Morgan believe that the victims of false charges deserve financial recovery. Consult with a trustworthy legal expert to explore all of your options.