False imprisonment claims are rare but do get litigated from time to time. Generally, false imprisonment occurs when an individual is unlawfully physically or constructively restrained against their will. Under both state and federal statutes, victims can sue alleging false imprisonment, and seek justice through compensation.
Proving False Imprisonment
False imprisonment is an intentional tort. This means the plaintiff is required to prove that the offender either knowingly or purposefully engaged in the wrongful conduct. Depending on state law, a plaintiff claiming false imprisonment must generally prove the following: (1) you were confined against your will; (2) the person confined you against your will intentionally, knowingly, and purposefully; (3) there were no lawful grounds for the imprisonment; and (4) you suffered physical, financial, or emotion harm as a result thereof.
To prove that you were confined against your will, you can–but it’s not necessary–that you show that you were confined through physical force. Instead, you can show that you reasonably believed that you were being detained by barriers, threats, duress, or other circumstances.
Lawful Grounds For Imprisonment
The third element can be tricky – a plaintiff must show that there were no lawful grounds for the imprisonment. An example of lawful imprisonment would be a police officer detaining a possible suspect after establishing probable cause. Note that detainment is not only lawful if done by law enforcement personnel. For example, lawful detainment could include detainment by security personnel at a mall for alleged shoplifting. The key to this element is ensuring that the imprisonment is legal and legitimate.
Scenarios Of False Imprisonment
As a trusted lawyer, like a sexual assault lawyer, knows, false imprisonment can manifest in various forms, ranging from physical confinement to the deprivation of personal freedom through intimidation or coercion. One common scenario is when an individual is wrongfully detained by law enforcement without proper legal justification. Such cases may involve an arrest without probable cause, an unlawful search and seizure, or a prolonged detention without formal charges. However, false imprisonment is not limited to interactions with law enforcement; it can occur in private settings as well, such as wrongful detentions by security personnel or false accusations leading to an individual’s confinement.
What Can You Do If You Believe You Were A Victim Of False Imprisonment?
False imprisonment serves as a mechanism to protect an individual’s personal liberty from unjustifiable restraint and confinement. The damages sought in civil claims of false imprisonment extend to both the damages of the civil harm that may have resulted from the confinement as well as the emotional trauma and pain and suffering that the victim suffered. Thus, civil compensation sought in these cases can, and often does, include medical expenses, therapy costs, loss of income, and damages for emotional distress. The damages for false imprisonment, along with all other torts, are all aimed at restoring the victim to their pre-incident state.
Thanks to our friends at Eglet Adams for their insight on false imprisonment. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a law firm for help when you believe you have been the victim of false imprisonment.