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What is 'false arrest'?

A 'false arrest' might intuitively sound like something that happens when the police arrest someone who turns out to be innocent. But the term refers more to errors made within the arrest process itself. Here are four examples of how false arrest can happen.

Bad police arrests. Mistakes made by the police can fall into two general categories: arresting the wrong person and making arrests without the legal authority to do so. One example of the first area is when authorities get the address wrong and a SWAT team bursts through the wrong door. The second category of bad arrest happens when police officers feel that they have just cause to make an arrest, but don't. An example might be mass arrests made after a group refuses to break up a protest, despite First Amendment protections.

Blundering bounty hunter. In most jurisdictions bounty hunters have the legal right to make arrests in some situations. But their training can be spotty and some have better instincts than others. When bounty hunters seize the wrong person or overstep their legal authority, it can cause panic, injury and embarrassment. Think of being dragged in handcuffs from your workplace simply because you have a similar name to an individual who had posted bail and disappeared.

Aggressive store security guards. In most jurisdictions, a uniformed or plainclothes security guard can detain suspected shoplifters to keep them from leaving the scene. Where it falls into the area of false arrest, however, is when the guard makes contact before the suspect has left the store. It's no crime to hold merchandise and walk around with it. It's only a crime if you take the goods out of the store without paying.

Citizen arrests. This is a less common cause of false arrest, but it does happen. What not all concerned citizens know is that they can only make arrests in felony cases, and only if there's no time to call the police and let them take care of the situation. That leaves plenty of situations in which a citizen arrest would not hold up in court. 

If you believe you have been a victim of a false arrest, you need strong legal guidance to help protect your rights through your ordeal. Make sure to contact a law firm with the experience and knowledge you need to prevail in your case. 

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