Wrongful Imprisonment

False imprisonment is the restraint of a person’s liberty of movement by another party who lacks the legal authority or justification to do so. False imprisonment can include a number of different circumstances from kidnapping, to the imprisonment of an innocent person, to the physical restraint of a nursing home resident. Though cases of false imprisonment can differ widely, a situation must satisfy certain requirements in order to legally constitute false imprisonment.

False imprisonment involves the total physical confinement of a person against their will for a significant period of time (however short). The use of physical contact or force is not necessary for a situation to be considered false imprisonment. Any threat or use of authority, which confines another person against their will without the authority to do so, is considered false imprisonment. False imprisonment must confine a person to physical or intangible boundaries, such as a room, their current physical space, or even a larger area like a city or state. To be considered false imprisonment, a person must lack a reasonable means to safely escape the confinement.

False imprisonment can occur within a facility, such as a nursing home or one’s place of employment. Current laws prohibit the use of physical, chemical, and psychological restraints used against nursing home residents. An employer may also be found guilty of false imprisonment when they confine an employee for questioning (i.e. regarding employee theft) against their will without the authority to do so.

False imprisonment may also be committed by law enforcement officials in a number of different situations. The improper issuing of arrest warrants the lead to the detainment of the named suspect may be considered false imprisonment. If a police officer or private citizen attempts to restrain a person to arrest them without the authority to do so (an arrest or search warrant) they may be found guilty of false imprisonment. When law enforcement detains a person for an unreasonable period of time (i.e. keeping a person in custody too long before official charges are brought) they may also be guilty of false imprisonment.

The remedy for false imprisonment is the restoration of the victim’s liberty and the recovery of damages from the party responsible in a civil case. In some circumstances, criminal charges may also be brought against the party responsible for the false imprisonment.

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