In Florida, What is a Claim for Abuse of Process?

What is Abuse of Process?

Abuse of process involves the use of criminal or civil legal process against another primarily to accomplish a purpose for which it was not designed.  In the case of Cline v. Flagler Sales Corporation, Cline purchased what was described as a chattel (possibly an appliance) from Flagler Sales Corporation and executed a retail installment contract.  Flagler hired someone to collect the installment payments that were not made.  Meanwhile, Cline returned the chattel which was accepted.  However, the collector filed criminal charges against her under F.S. Section 818.01.  This law makes it a crime to remove property from the county in which you live where another person or entity holds the title to the item (chattel).  The charge resulted in Cline’s arrest.

Abuse of Process Involves the Issuance of Improper Process Which is Used.

In the end, the appellate court (Florida’s Thirst District Court of Appeal) sustained the claim for abuse of process even though Cline was eventually released.  Abuse of process does not require that the victim lose the fraudulent case against them.  It merely requires that the fraudulent or otherwise improper process was issued and used.  It is a willful, wrongful, and intentional misuse of process.

Common Actions Involving Abuse of Process

The author has seen numerous actions that would constitute a claim for abuse of process.  The author frequently sees domestic violence injunction filings that are initiated for wrongful reasons.  For instance, people in relationships involving children, frequently file false claims in domestic violence court in order to prevent their former spouse or significant other from seeing their child.  The author believes that the child in a divorce or paternity case frequently becomes a prize between two parents that no longer get along and there is no cost at all to file a domestic violence injunction case.  Such a false filing can result in great inconvenience for the Respondent.  Although domestic violence is not a criminal act, a background check is likely to show such a case.  This can result in one being turned down for an apartment or home rental.  After all, who wants to rent a home to someone with violence in their background?

How Does an Abuse of Process Protect those Afflicted?

Although the actual filing of an abuse of process claim is rare, it is fortunate that such a cause of action exists.  If not, there would not be a mechanism to recoup losses caused by false charges that are being made for purposes other than what the law was designed to resolve.

Call an Experienced Attorney for a Consultation if You are Involved in a false claim or other improperly filed charge.

If you are a litigant in a civil or criminal case that was filed against you for an improper purpose, an experienced attorney can help determine your best course of action.  Call the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC, and speak to an experienced attorney to understand your rights.  Call (904) 990-8000 for a free initial consultation today.

About the author

Neil Weinreb is a licensed Florida attorney who has been practicing and regularly works on criminal and civil cases for almost 20 years in North Florida.  Mr. Weinreb works for the Law Office of David M. Goldman in Jacksonville, Florida.   Mr. Weinreb has worked as an adjunct professor teaching law to paralegal students at Jones College in Jacksonville, Florida.  You can contact Mr. Weinreb at the Law Office of David M. Goldman for a free initial consultation.  Mr. Weinreb has received the highest rating from Martindale Hubbell, AV Preeminent.

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