Being arrested is a traumatic experience by itself. Being arrested for something you know you didn’t do obviously exacerbates that trauma. While not necessarily a common occurrence in Greater Fall River, it does happen that people are falsely accused, and arrested. The results can include a damaged reputation, loss of work, and unwarranted stress to your life, family, and home.
There are times when false arrests come as a result of unfortunate misunderstandings. However, what happens if the cause of your arrest was the malicious prosecution of someone in your life?
It does happen, as one of our recent callers revealed.
When malicious prosecution is behind your arrest, what are your rights?
Using our caller’s story as an example, let’s say that you live in the Maplewood neighborhood of Fall River. You and your neighbor have a bad relationship, for one of a number of reasons.
Then, let’s say your neighbor’s dog is killed. The neighbor, who doesn’t like you to begin with, calls the police and says that you killed his dog.
Responding to this claim, the police arrest you. However, realizing the evidence is lacking, and ascertaining that your Maplewood neighbor lied during his report, the police let you go and toss out the charges.
The positive side is that you no longer have to worry about a pending arrest. However, the damage of your neighbor’s accusation might be hard to recover from. As such, do you have a right to get back at your accuser for maliciously prosecuting you?
How the anti-SLAPP law affects Fall River, MA residents
To understand anti-SLAPP laws, you need to understand the background of SLAPP (or Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation). SLAPP is a lawsuit intended to censor or intimidate critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense.
Anti-SLAPP laws, then, are put into place to penalize plaintiffs who file lawsuits ruled frivolous. In the case of our Fall River caller, his neighbor said he is protected from a lawsuit because of this Anti-SLAPP law. In other words, he claimed thecaller’s potential charges are frivolous.
Is this true?
To be honest, the legalities of anti-SLAPP are still a bit of a mystery. The law was originally intended to deal with developers and neighbors, and has since expanded its scope.
However, even with anti-SLAPP laws in place, residents from Steep Brook to Sandy Beach do have a right to protect their reputations by going after those who maliciously prosecute them. More specifically, if someone is proven to have lied to police, then criminal offenses can be charged.
Proving malicious intent in Southeastern Massachusetts can be tricky
The problem with going after a false accuser is that it can be difficult to prove the maliciousness of their intent. If there is any, and we mean any, circumstantial evidence that suggests you are capable of what you’re accused of, that, in theory, is enough for the cops to issue an arrest.
Their main concern is the protection of the public. If they have reason to believe you are a danger to the community, they have a right to arrest you, so long as there is some type of evidence to support this action.
Although there may be ulterior motives behind the neighbor’s accusations, police have to err on the side of caution.
How can I protect my reputation and prosecute someone who falsely accuses me?
Because this is such a complicated legal area, it’s important that you seek legal counsel before you even decide to press charges. You need to ensure you gather enough evidence to prove your case, so that the person you’re going after can’t get the case tossed out of court before you have your say.
We encourage you to contact the Law Offices of Sabra & Aspden to learn more about how we can help you protect your reputation and assets. We serve clients in the Greater Fall River area, including Somerset, Dartmouth, Seekonk, New Bedford, and beyond. Call us today at 508-916-2134 or visit us at http://www.sabraandaspden.com to learn more.