When people envision imprisonment, they often think of being in a jail cell. However, not all types of imprisonment and detainment require that a person is present in prison. In fact, it is possible for someone to be falsely imprisoned without ever leaving their current location. To understand whether you have been a victim of false imprisonment by a police officer, you should learn about the three primary elements that must occur in order for an event to qualify. This way, you can determine if you believe that you have been a victim and pursue the justice and compensation that you deserve.
What Does False Imprisonment Mean?
False imprisonment refers to when a person stops another person from being able to move freely. The person doing the stopping must not have any legal justification to do so. However, not every engagement in which a person is being prevented from leaving will qualify as false imprisonment.
False arrest and false imprisonment are sometimes used interchangeably. However, they are not exactly the same. While a false imprisonment may not necessarily be a false arrest, all false arrests are, by nature, false imprisonments. In order for false imprisonment to apply, three unique elements must all be present simultaneously.
The Three Elements of False Imprisonment
False imprisonment requires that three elements are present:
1. Willful Detention
Detainment can only count as false imprisonment if the person who is doing the detaining is intending to do so. For example, you may be blocked into a parking space by another car, but the driver did not realize you did not have enough room to leave. This is not a willful detention by the driver, and you are fully capable of leaving the scene-albeit without your car for the time being. Thus, this cannot be considered false imprisonment.
2. Lack of Consent
In some situations, a person may directly agree to be detained. If you consent for a police officer to arrest you and then later change your mind, or if you say yes when someone asks if it is alright to keep you in a location, you may forfeit your right to claim false imprisonment later. False imprisonment can only occur when the individual being detained does not consent to the detainment.
3. Unlawful Justification
Whether or not a detainment is lawful is determined by privilege-that is, a legal justification to hold someone. Anyone who detains another person must have the right to do so, either because that person may potentially cause harm to others, because their position grants them the authority, or something else. If you have been detained without justification, you may have been falsely imprisoned.
Examples of False Imprisonment-and What It’s Not
False imprisonment comes in many forms, but some of the most common allegations of this claim do not qualify. Physical force is not required, though it often happens in the course of events.
Examples of situations that may qualify as false imprisonment include:
- One person physically restrains another and does not allow them to leave
- A person makes a threat (such as brandishing a gun while robbing a bank) that makes it impossible for people to leave for an undetermined amount of time for fear of their own safety
- Someone locks someone else in a room
However, some situations in which a person cannot easily leave are not considered false imprisonment:
- Being taken into custody but later being found innocent
- Being stopped and having your grocery bags searched at a store
- Being told not to leave but being able to go through a door without fear of retaliation
- Being restrained by someone but able to get away
One of the key components of false imprisonment that may be considered the “fourth” mandatory element is that you must believe that you were being confined. If you were not aware that there was no way out of your situation until later, you cannot retroactively claim false imprisonment. Similarly, you must actively want to get out of the situation; otherwise, the court may deem that you consented to the detainment and are therefore ineligible to bring a claim of false imprisonment.
A Legal Professional Can Help You Bring a Case If You Have Been a Victim
If you believe that you were the victim of false imprisonment, whether by a member of the public or a police officer, you have options. The attorneys at The Brown Firm would be happy to help you explore your options for compensation during a consultation. Reach out to learn more or to schedule a time to get started.