In early April, the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) made it easier for plaintiffs to file some civil rights claims after their criminal cases end in Pennsylvania. The 6-3 ruling allows plaintiffs to bring malicious prosecution suits to federal court by only showing that their criminal cases ended without a conviction.
Previous standard required providing innocence
The ruling deemed the previous prevailing standard in lower courts was too burdensome for plaintiff civil rights as falsely accused plaintiffs who had criminal cases dismissed early on had almost no recourse to sue unless they had full proof of innocence whereas those who went through trials could do so.
Until the ruling, law enforcement officials who essentially frame an innocent person by falsifying or planting evidence could get off when a court dismissed the bogus charges. The SCOTUS ruling changes that unjust rule by allowing a plaintiff to bring civil rights charges against police who violated them. The ruling has been called a much-needed step toward greater accountability in law enforcement.
The SCOTUS opinion stemmed from a case in New York State where a plaintiff’s malicious prosecution claims against arresting officers were dropped without elaboration in the “interest of justice.”
What does this ruling mean for my claim?
If you had a criminal case dismissed by the courts due to lack of evidence or a similar standard, you may now be able to pursue a malicious prosecution claim if you feel that law enforcement unfairly targeted you because of your ethnicity or similar factors.
Nevertheless, you must still show that the absence of probable cause and qualified immunity pertains to your claim. If you have proof of both, then you may have a good chance of pursuing and winning a civil rights claim against law enforcement officials who may have unfairly arrested you.