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What constitutes false arrest?

Many people hear the term false arrest and immediately assume that the police can't be accused of this crime. They think that someone who commits a false arrest is an everyday citizen who locks someone in a room against their will, or literally arrests them with their own set of handcuffs. However, police can be guilty of false arrest, or false imprisonment, just like anyone else.

A false arrest occurs when someone arrests or detains an individual without the legal authority to do so. The second the arrest leads to the victim being in custody, the false arrest becomes false imprisonment. A police officer can be guilty of false arrest and/or false imprisonment if they exceed the legal authority bestowed to them.

If you are arrested under false pretenses or you are falsely imprisoned, here are a few elements you will need to prove if you file a civil claim:

  • The detention must have occurred willfully
  • There must not have been any consent to the detention
  • The detention must be unlawful in nature

Physical force is not required for false imprisonment to occur. Similarly, this is a complicated and nebulous area of law. There are many different circumstances that could be involved in a false imprisonment case. Nursing home staff could be accused of falsely imprisoning someone. Security guards, mall cops, police officers and other people in positions of authority could be involved in these cases, and it behooves victims of these heinous acts to consult with an attorney to make sure their case is properly investigated and presented.

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