Malicious Prosecution Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Malicious Prosecution, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Malicious Prosecution?

(n) Malicious prosecutions is the intended filing of lawsuits, without adequate reason or substances, with sole intention to create problem to the responded. All malicious activities are punitive and the defendant can claim damages if malice intention is established

History and Meaning of Malicious Prosecution

Malicious prosecution is a civil tort that is recognized in common law jurisdictions. It refers to a situation where a person has wrongfully and maliciously initiated or pursued a legal action against another person, without any probable cause or reasonable grounds. The term "malicious" refers to the intention to cause harm, rather than any actual harm that may have been caused. In order to prove malicious prosecution, the plaintiff must show that the defendant acted with malice, lacked probable cause, and caused harm.

The concept of malicious prosecution has been around for centuries and developed as a response to abuses of the legal system. It is seen as a vital safeguard against the misuse of legal processes as a tool for harassment, intimidation or revenge. Malicious prosecution is applicable in various legal scenarios, including both civil and criminal cases.

Examples of Malicious Prosecution

  1. In a case where a person is arrested and charged with a crime without any basis or evidence, and the charges are later dismissed, they may have the basis to sue for malicious prosecution.

  2. A landlord initiates a frivolous lawsuit against a tenant to force them to move out. The landlord lacks probable cause for the legal action, and the lawsuit is dismissed. The tenant may sue for malicious prosecution.

  3. A disgruntled employee sues their former employer for discrimination or harassment, despite there being no evidence to support their claims. The employer successfully defends the lawsuit and then sues the employee for malicious prosecution.

Legal Terms Similar to Malicious Prosecution

  1. False arrest - A tort that occurs when a person is wrongfully arrested, held, or detained by law enforcement without probable cause.

  2. Malicious arrest - Similar to malicious prosecution, but instead of being sued for wrongful legal action, the defendant is sued for wrongfully initiating an arrest.

  3. Abuse of process - A tort that occurs when a legal process is misused, usually for the purpose of causing harm or achieving an ulterior motive. This includes malicious prosecution, but also extends to other legal actions such as discovery requests and injunctions.