Hypothetically, Adam is charged with a crime and stays in jail for a few months before going before a jury. The jury decides that not only is Adam innocent, but he's so obviously innocent that he never should have been charged in the first place.

Can the jury compensate Adam for this?

If not, can Adam be compensated at all?

  • 1
    in WHICH country? There are states that deny that such compensation exists at all (Iraq), ones where there is no Jury, but compensation is automatically granted (Germany), ones where Juries exist (US) and many more
    – Trish
    Apr 29 at 14:40
  • Good point, I was referring to America. Apr 29 at 14:51

In the US this is generally governed by state law: RCW 4.24.350 in Washington state. The criminal jury is not empowered to make such a decision, but a separate civil trial for malicious prosecution would be possible. Plaintif (ex defedant) would have to prove that

the action was instituted with knowledge that the same was false, and unfounded, malicious and without probable cause in the filing of such action, or that the same was filed as a part of a conspiracy to misuse judicial process by filing an action known to be false and unfounded

The basis for the lawsuit would be the objective facts that prove that the prosecution was false and malicious, and not the fact of acquittal or the subjective opinion of a juror.

  • Actually, in the U.S., this wouldn't be a jury decision but a Judicial One. In the U.S. when the state or a state actor (such as a prosecutor) appears as the defendant in a civil suit, the trial is a bench trial automatically and no jury is called.
    – hszmv
    Apr 29 at 18:02
  • Is that an encoded rule, or just general practice? Rule 38-39, Fed. R. Civ. P. seem to allow the possibility of trial by jury.
    – user6726
    Apr 29 at 18:10
  • @user6726 The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure just govern cases in federal court, where you can almost never sue a state for money damages in the first place. States have sovereign immunity in both their own courts and federal court, and waiver of sovereign immunity normally comes with conditions. A common condition is that there is no jury; for instance, the federal government has not consented to jury trial except for certain tax cases. Washington, however, appears to allow a jury in suits against the state.
    – cpast
    Apr 30 at 1:07
  • @user6726 That said, RCW 4.24.350 is mostly about malicious civil cases. Do you have an example of its use against government officials because of a malicious criminal case?
    – cpast
    Apr 30 at 1:11

Can the jury compensate Adam for this?

  • No, this is outside of the jury's responsibilities.

If not, can Adam be compensated at all?

  • Only if he can prove that his case was seriously mishandled, for example, by a malicious prosecution.

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