Posted on Thursday, June 29th, 2023 at 6:47 pm
If your rights have been violated, you may feel understandably angry, upset, and unsure of what to do next. After all, taking legal action can be daunting, especially if you don’t know whether you have a valid cause of action or whom to hold accountable for the harm you suffered. If you were unlawfully held against your will, it’s essential to understand the distinction between false arrest and false imprisonment. While they may seem interchangeable, they have unique definitions and implications under the law. In this post, we explain the differences between these two terms, provide practical examples, and outline how to know if you might have a valid claim.
Understanding the differences between false imprisonment and false arrest
False imprisonment and false arrest might sound similar but they are distinct legal concepts. False imprisonment occurs when one person unlawfully restricts another’s freedom of movement against their will without any legal justification or consent. The victim doesn’t need to be in jail or handcuffed; any scenario where the victim is confined or restrained without a legal basis could qualify.
On the other hand, in most jurisdictions, false or wrongful arrest involves unlawful restraint or detention by a person with an asserted legal authority. Both private citizens and members of law enforcement can be accused of false arrest. For instance, a false arrest may happen when a police officer exercises their authority to detain or arrest someone without proper legal grounds or an arrest warrant.
Whether you were falsely imprisoned or arrested will determine whom you file a claim against and what proof is required to substantiate your claim. An attorney with experience successfully handling these cases can evaluate your situation and identify your legal options.
Examples of false arrest and false imprisonment situations
An example of a false arrest is a police officer detaining someone without reasonable suspicion, probable cause, or an arrest warrant. For instance, a police officer cannot lawfully detain a person for refusing to identify themselves to the officer unless the officer reasonably suspects the person was involved in a crime.
False imprisonment, conversely, can be perpetrated by anyone, not just those with an asserted legal authority to make an arrest. For example, false imprisonment might occur when someone intentionally locks another person in a room with no means of escape, without consent, and without legal authority. The detainee must be restrained via a physical barrier (a locked door), physical force, a failure to release, or invalid use of legal authority. Furthermore, threats to harm the detainee if they leave could also be considered a restraint.
Legal basis for false arrest and false imprisonment claim
In the United States, both false arrest and false imprisonment are considered violations of a person’s Fourth Amendment rights, which protect against unreasonable seizures of the person. The elements of false arrest and false imprisonment claims can vary by state. Still, generally, one must prove they were confined or restrained against their will and that the confiner had no lawful justification.
Many jurisdictions distinguish false arrest from false imprisonment by defining false arrest as a situation where the arresting party has an asserted legal authority to make arrests. On the other hand, in these jurisdictions, false imprisonment can be perpetrated by anyone regardless of a claim of authority.
How to determine if you have a false arrest or false imprisonment claim
Call us if you believe you’ve been a false arrest or imprisonment victim. It’s critical to consult an experienced attorney who can help you understand your rights and how the laws apply to your situation.
To determine if you have a claim, an attorney will likely review the circumstances of your confinement, any available evidence, the actions of the individual or authority involved, and whether there was a lack of consent or legal basis for your detention.
Remember that every situation is unique, and only a legal professional can provide advice tailored to your circumstances. Thus, speaking to an attorney with experience handling false imprisonment and false arrest cases is the best way to determine whether you have a valid claim.
Contact our false imprisonment and false arrest lawyers today
You don’t have to determine your legal options if you’ve been subjected to false arrest or imprisonment. Reach out to the experienced false imprisonment and arrest attorneys at Wallace Miller today. We’re dedicated to ensuring your rights are protected and ready to fight for the justice you deserve. Call us at (312) 261-6193 or contact us online for a free, confidential consultation.