Malicious Prosecution

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Typically in the American system of justice, a criminal defendant tried by a jury is either found guilty or not­ guilty – the court does not proclaim innocence.  But in 2007, the Attorney General of the State of North Carolina did just that after three players on the Duke University lacrosse team were wrongfully accused of sexual assault.  The Attorney General went on to proclaim that the student athletes were victims of a “tragic rush to accuse” them[1].

Obviously this case is an exceptional one, but it is certainly not the only instance of malicious prosecution on record.  In Michigan, individuals who have been unfairly targeted by witnesses, police officers, or even in some limited circumstances, prosecutors, may seek civil remedies for the damages they have suffered.  To be successful in a claim for malicious prosecution, a plaintiff must prove[2]:

  1. That the defendant caused or continued a prosecution against him or her;
  2. That the criminal proceedings terminated in his or her favor (was found not guilty);
  3. That the private person who started or maintained the prosecution lacked probable cause for his or her actions; and
  4. That the action was undertaken with malice or a purpose other than to bring the true offender to justice.

If each of the above items can be proven in your case, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your damages, including:

  1. Attorney Fees;
  2. Medical Damages;
  3. Wage Loss;
  4. Pain and Suffering; and
  5. Emotional and Psychological Damages.

If you feel you have been wrongfully accused and exonerated of a crime, others may tell you that you have not lost anything – that you have your freedom and are right back where you started.  At Moss & Colella, P.C., we understand that malicious prosecution is a serious matter with serious consequences not just to your wallet, but to your good name.  Call Vince Colella, an aggressive, skilled, knowledgeable trial lawyer who has dedicated his career to helping victims of malicious prosecution to recover the damages they have suffered and restore their reputations in the community, toll free at 1.800.MUSTWIN or at 248.945.0100.

[1] Duff Wilson and David Barstow, All Charges Dropped in Duke Case, N.Y. Times, April 12, 2007,

[2] Matthews v. Blue Cross & Blue Shield, 456 Mich. 365 (1998); M Civ JI 117.01.

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