The law gives individuals certain civil rights, which form the foundation of our democracy and many of our freedoms. Despite these rights being engrained in our society, far too often they are infringed upon. This is unacceptable, primarily because the ramifications can be enormous for individuals
One way that this can occur is through malicious prosecution. Law enforcement officials and prosecutors who bring cases against an individual without probable cause and subsequently dismiss the action have engaged in malicious prosecution. Such prosecutions can have serious consequences for an individual's freedom, reputation and emotional well-being.
A Pennsylvania man found that out the hard way. Back in 2016, the man intervened during a dispute where a gun was drawn, apparently disarming another man in the process. The man claims he then threw the gun to the ground, but State Troopers arrived shortly thereafter and, after another individual fired a shot into the air, one of those Troopers took aim and fired at the man who had been trying to deescalate the situation. The bullets missed him, but he was later taken into custody after the Trooper alleged that the man had pointed a gun at him.
The man was charged with multiple criminal counts, including aggravated assault and gun possession, amongst others. A jury acquitted him after a trial, but the man had to spend time in jail awaiting trial, which he claims changed his life forever. He has now filed a federal lawsuit claiming that law enforcement lied in affidavits meant to support probable cause, and that prosecutors maliciously prosecuted him despite clear video evidence that cleared him of all wrongdoing.
The stakes are quite high in these matters. If successful, liability can be imposed and compensation for damages recovered, but perhaps more importantly is the fact that the government and its agents are held accountable for their wrongdoing. Hopefully then they will be deterred from infringing upon the rights of others.
Proving these cases can be a monumental task, though, especially when facing off against the government. Thus, those who feel that their civil rights have been infringed should consider working closely with a skilled legal professional to build the best case possible under the circumstances.