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Can I Sue For False Arrest After My Criminal Charges Are Dropped?

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Can You Sue For False Arrest After Your Criminal Charges Are Dropped?  It depends.


In the town of New Ipswich, a natural gas pipeline was being constructed. An opponent of the project was Matthew Zinicola, who had a verbal confrontation with a project surveyor.  He supposedly told the surveyor he would return to the site with an AR-15, a type of weapon.

Zinicola was arrested for criminal threatening. The case was resolved by a “conditional nolle prosequi” requiring Zinicola to maintain good behavior for one year or the criminal complaint could be reinstated.

Malicious Prosecution Requirements

To sue for civil damages, four things are required:

  1. The defendant instituted criminal charges
  2. without probable cause
  3. with malice, and
  4. the charge terminated in his favor.

In Zinicola’s matter, the last prong was the key here.

Was Termination in Zinicola’s Favor?

Not so said our federal District Court judge. If the charge was dropped as a compromise, then it doesn’t count here because Mr. Zinicola had to be of “good behavior” for one year because it was not a pure nol pros, a malicious prosecution lawsuit could not proceed.

The Lesson

1.) If you feel you were wrongfully charged with a crime be sure that your criminal defense lawyer understands the consequences of a deal and 2.) Don’t discuss a possible civil suit because the police will not want to do pure nol pros of the case if you tip your hand.

Call Jared Bedrick at (603) 288-1403 to talk before you resolve your criminal case if you think you meet the four-point test for malicious prosecution or fill out our online contact form.