What distinguishes false arrest from false imprisonment?

On Behalf of | Dec 8, 2021 | Criminal Law |

The violation of your civil rights through a false arrest is a serious matter. You have the right to due process under the U.S. Constitution, so a police officer or anyone else does not have the right to detain you without cause. While you may have grounds to sue for false arrest, it is also possible the person arresting you has wrongly detained you as well.

Some people think false arrest and false imprisonments are one and the same. While they share similarities, FindLaw explains how the two concepts can actually be different.

How false arrests lead to false imprisonment

A false arrest occurs when someone arrests you without the legal authority to do so. There is, however, a distinction between someone arresting you and a person taking you into custody. The moment that the person wrongfully arresting you actually detains you, the illegal arrest has moved into false imprisonment.

False imprisonment happens when a police officer or anyone else willfully restricts your freedom of movement in an unlawful manner and without your consent. False imprisonment may happen anywhere. It might occur inside of a building or out in a street. Even if someone does not use physical force to detain you, false imprisonment can happen if someone threatens you with force unless you stay in a certain location.

Litigating false imprisonment

It is possible to seek damages for false arrest and false imprisonment if your case involves both. Some people claim false arrest and false imprisonment if their detention involved a police officer. In the event someone who is not a law enforcement officer detains you, you may only have grounds to sue for false imprisonment.

The party who had detained you may offer different possible defenses. They may claim you gave consent or they were engaging in a citizen’s arrest. A store owner may claim a shopkeeper’s privilege and say he or she thought you were shoplifting. You should be aware of any possible argument against your claims so you will be in a good position to make your case.