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Ely, Attorney
Category: Traffic Law
Satisfied Customers: 102600
Experience:  Private practice
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I recently got into accident. As I was trying to make a left,

Customer Question

I recently got into accident. As I was trying to make a left, the driver behind me decided to overtake me and ended up hitting me. Police was called on seen. The cop cited the other driver for overtaking and driving with a suspended license. This person then decided to filed a private citizen complaint against me for careless driving. How should I handle this?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Traffic Law
Expert:  Ely replied 4 years ago.
This is not an answer, but an Information Request. I need this information to answer your question. Please reply, so I can answer your question. Thank you in advance.

I am very sorry for your situation. In NJ, a private citizen can bring a case against another citizen claiming that the other person has violated some law. Of course, this is just an allegation, and does not mean that you are already "convicted" of anything. A typical complaint looks like here.

What happens is that the private citizen files a complaint and if the prosecutor attached to the Municipal Court finds that there is probable cause to issue a complaint, they will. Here, what this individual did is likely give their very skewed version of the event in the complaint. The prosecutor - not having the benefit of the officer's citations and report of the incident - believed the complainant, prematurely, and issued the complaint.

Someone in your situation may wish to show up to Court on the first hearing and plead NOT GUILTY, and also have counsel. May I recommend the NJ Bar referral program - here. The attorneys are vetted and qualified. You should be able to find an attorney you are confident with and whom you can trust, and who is available ASAP. The attorney should quickly have this dismissed.

You may then sue the individual for malicious prosecution aside from the damage cause by the accident. A malicious prosecution action arising out of a criminal prosecution requires proof: (1) that the criminal action was instituted by the defendant against the plaintiff, (2) that it was actuated by malice, (3) that there was an absence of probable cause for the proceeding, and (4) that it was terminated favorably to the plaintiff. Prosser, Law of Torts, § 119 at 835 (4th ed. 1971); Evans v. Jersey Central Power, etc., Co., 119 N.J.L. 88 (E. & A. 1937). Punitive damages may also be requested.

I hope this helps and clarifies. Best of luck.

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