A tort is a wrongful act that causes injury or loss to another person. While accidents and negligence are what many people think of when discussing civil liability, the law also recognizes that torts can be intentional. Two such intentional torts are false imprisonment and false arrest. If you have experienced what you believe is false imprisonment or false arrest, then you will need to understand what it involves in order to make a convincing case before a court. Below is more information on what legally constitutes false imprisonment and what you should do if you believe you are a victim of the act:
What are false imprisonment and false arrest?
False imprisonment and false arrest are a duo of closely related, yet distinct, actions. While both are commonly thought of as exclusively criminal offenses, false imprisonment and false arrest can be addressed in a civil court of law where an individual sues for damages. This means you have an opportunity to obtain redress for personal wrongs, if you can prove you are the victim of false imprisonment or false arrest. However, before that occurs, you will need to demonstrate that the first three conditions are present before false imprisonment is established, and the fourth condition must additionally be true to prove false arrest.
1. Restraint - To qualify as false imprisonment or false arrest, the action must involve the restraint of another person through the use of actual or implied force. That means the restraint can be physical, such as tying up a person or locking them inside a room, but it also can include a threat against a person without actually ever touching them.
2. Unwillingness to participate - Another key element in determining whether false imprisonment or arrest took place is the degree of willingness upon the part of the alleged victim. If a person who claims false imprisonment or false arrest maintained the ability to move freely out of a situation and was not subject to a threat to stay, then the claim is not justified from a legal perspective.
3. Unlawful - Restraint against a person's will is often not considered false imprisonment due to the lawful nature of the act. For example, children in a school classroom are not considered to be falsely imprisoned, despite their limited ability to leave a situation and regardless of their desire to participate. As such, to prove false imprisonment, the accuser must demonstrate the activity was unlawful.
4. Under the color of law - While this element does not have to be in place to constitute false imprisonment, it does need to exist, along with the previous three, to make a case for false arrest. A false arrest can only occur if the actor incorrectly claims to have a special legal right to detain an individual. For example, if someone falsely imprisons another individual, and claims to be a peace officer but is not, then the action rises to the level of false arrest. This added level of accountability makes false arrest a more serious tort and can increase the amount of compensation owed to its victims.
What should be done if you are the victim of false imprisonment or false arrest?
If you believe you are a victim of false imprisonment or arrest, the first action you should take is to contact the law enforcement authority with jurisdiction over the offense. Filing a police report can help tie the legitimacy of the event with a credible organization that will add weight to your case in court. It will also aid you and your attorney by providing a written account to rely upon as your memory fades. Finally, filing a police report can result in criminal charges against the perpetrator and ensure they are prosecuted for their unlawful actions.
The next action to take is to contact a qualified attorney about your situation. Be sure to find a lawyer who understands civil torts and who can help build the case against the person who wronged you. They will be able to provide you with constructive advice and formulate a plan of action for gaining compensation. Contact a lawyer like Charles Aaron PLC for more information.