False arrest is a type of false imprisonment or wrongful arrest in which
a person is detained without his or her consent and without legal authority.
A false arrest is a tort (civil wrong). A lawsuit can be brought for money
damages resulting from a false arrest. Private citizens and police officers
commit a false arrest when their actions are beyond the scope of their
authority. Lawsuits against police officers in false arrest cases are
challenging and difficult to win because police officers rely on probable
cause for an arrest. Most claims for false arrest are aimed at private
security companies, whose employees sometimes use force or threats to
detain people. The victim of the false arrest in a civil lawsuit would
have to prove that he / she was harmed in some way by the false arrest.
The problem in these types of civil lawsuits is that the harm to the victim
must be proved and that is difficult to do in many cases. If the harm
is proved ,the victim can obtain monetary compensation for the harm suffered.
Many claims of false arrest involve the detention of shoplifters. Due to
growing concerns over shoplifting, many states have enacted laws that
allow merchants to detain customers suspected of shoplifting for the purpose
of investigating the situation. In California, merchants are allowed to
detain people for a reasonable time for the purpose of investigation when
the merchant has probable cause to believe the person is attempting to
steal or unlawfully take merchandise from the store. (California Penal
Code Section 490.5) See also
False arrest and false imprisonment are very similar and are practically
indistinguishable. A false arrest occurs when someone detains, restricts
or confines another person against their will and does so falsely claiming
to have legal authority or by a law enforcement agent who lacks probable
cause or legal grounds to detain or arrest someone. A false imprisonment,
on the other hand, is the unlawful violation of the personal liberty of
another accomplished by violence, fraud, or deceit.
If you believe you were falsely arrested or are being charged with false
imprisonment, speak to an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Do
not speak to law enforcement until you have spoken with an experienced attorney.