America’s highest court lowered the mandatory criteria to sue authorities for detaining individuals without proper reason on April 4.
The U.S. Supreme Court no longer requires acquittals or statements of innocence before hearing wrongful arrest matters.
In a six to three vote, associate justices ruled complainants can immediately pursue Fourth Amendment lawsuits under existing civil rights legislation, protecting citizens from unlawful seizure.
“To demonstrate a favorable termination of a criminal prosecution for purposes of the Fourth Amendment claim … for malicious prosecution, a plaintiff need only show that his prosecution ended without a conviction,” justice Brett Kavanaugh said in the ruling.
The justice found prosecution dismissal reasons do not influence whether a suspect was wrongly charged.
“The individual’s ability to seek redress for a wrongful prosecution cannot reasonably turn on the fortuity of whether the prosecutor or court happened to explain why the charges were dismissed,” he said in the document.
He also stressed law enforcement officers already enjoy various legislative protections from frivolous civil matters.
“Requiring a plaintiff to show that his prosecution ended with an affirmative indication of innocence is not necessary to protect officers from unwarranted civil suits, as officers are still protected by the requirement that the plaintiff show the absence of probable cause and by qualified immunity,” he said.
The remarks came after accused newborn abuser Larry Thompson sued the New York Police Department for detaining him for two days. Although he was charged with resisting arrest and obstructing governmental administration, the prosecution dropped the matter without giving a reason.
“[Since] Thompson satisfied that requirement in this case, we, therefore, reverse the judgment of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion,” Kavanaugh said.
Kavanaugh, Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., and Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan voted in favor.