What Does It Take To Sue For False Imprisonment?

Posted on: 16 September 2015

An interesting article appeared on the Huffington Post about a medical office who had an undocumented woman arrested for presenting a fake driver's license. While the staff was within their rights to notify police about the issue, it appears they may have also broken a few laws in order to get the woman arrested, including unlawfully detaining her for two hours. False imprisonment is something that occurs more often than you would think because many people don't know the law regarding detaining others. If you were illegally detained, you may have recourse to collect damages. Here's more information about this option.

Proving Your Case

To collect compensation for being imprisoned against your will, there are three elements you must show in court:

  • The person purposefully imprisoned the victim
  • The victim didn't consent to being imprisoned
  • The victim was aware that he or she was being detained

Physical restraint is not necessary. The detention can take any form. For instance, the perpetrator can force the victim to remain by verbally threatening the individual. As long as the individual believes the person will follow through on the threats, it can be counted as false imprisonment. Force, use of authority, and being locked in a room are other ways a person can be illegally detained.

However, the victim must be aware that he or she is being detained, and the person must not be able to leave the situation. If the person is unaware of being falsely imprisoned or the individual can escape through an alternate (albeit reasonable) route, then the law likely won't see the person as having been illegally detained.

Additionally, there are a couple of circumstances where the law protects people from charges of false imprisonment. Police officers have the authority to detain individuals as long as they have probable cause a crime has been committed. Retailers can also detain people for a brief period of time if they suspect or have evidence the person shoplifted.

In these situations, it'll be critical to show the perpetrator had no legitimate reason to detain you or that the detention was unreasonable. For instance, the retail store forced you to sit in a backroom for three hours, far beyond the amount of time for a police officer to arrive on the scene.

Damages You Can Collect

You can collect compensation for a variety of damages that arise from being falsely detained including:

  • Physical injuries
  • Pain and suffering
  • Damage to reputation
  • Loss of wages or earnings
  • Reasonable expenses that were necessary (e.g. attorneys fees)

You may even be awarded punitive damages if the perpetrator's actions were particularly egregious. For instance, a retail manager forces an alleged shoplifter to undergo an unlawful strip search.

If you were the victim of false imprisonment, speak to an attorney like one from Franklin & Rapp about your case and your options for recovering compensation for damages.