Dena Standley | January 06, 2023
Summary: False imprisonment occurs when a person restrains someone else in a confined area without their consent. If you believe you are a victim of false imprisonment, your case must meet the following three qualifications: 1) you did not give consent, 2) the person restraining you did so without any legal justification, and 3) the person restraining you did so intentionally.
False imprisonment can best be explained using a case that rocked the nation in 2013 concerning Ariel Castro. He had abducted three women on separate occasions and held them captive in his home for eleven years. Mr. Castro offered each lady a ride and, instead of taking them to their destination, took them to his house and prevented them from leaving. These women were victims of false imprisonment.
False imprisonment, also known as unlawful imprisonment in the first degree, typically occurs when a person intentionally restrains another person from free movement or leaving a particular location without consent. The movement can be restricted in a vehicle, building, street, or any other place where a person is held against their will.
In this article, SoloSuit will give you more information on false imprisonment by explaining the situations that qualify as false imprisonment, the elements required, and the viable defenses.
Not all situations can be deemed false imprisonment. Even if you believe you were confined, the court must determine if the belief was reasonable. The judge must also determine what a reasonable individual would do or believe if in the same predicament. The following are situations that qualify as false imprisonment:
In other circumstances, you may believe that you have been falsely imprisoned, but the situation fails to qualify as false imprisonment by the law’s standard. The following situations do not qualify as false imprisonment:
The following three elements must be present to prove false imprisonment as a tort (personal injury claim) in a civil lawsuit. Notably, your case cannot succeed in court if one element is missing.
If you make a false imprisonment claim, you must believe you were confined based on the other person's actions. The court will consider if another reasonable person would believe they were being detained. This step will help to determine if your belief was reasonable.
The person who restrained you must not have a legal justification to hold you against your will.
The person detaining you must do it wilfully or intentionally. Accidentally being locked in a room when the other person is on the other side doesn't qualify as false imprisonment. Wilful detention entails preventing a person from leaving through intimidation or force.
Let's look at a real-life example of false imprisonment that happened in Louisiana.
Example: A pharmacist suspicious of a patient's prescription (despite the doctor calling earlier about it) told her to wait for her medication but instead called the police. The law enforcement officer arrested the patient, and while in jail, they confirmed the prescription was legitimate. Afterward, the patient sued the pharmacy and its employees and received $20,000 in damages. However, an appellate court reversed the judgment saying that the three elements of false imprisonment were not met.
A defense against false imprisonment often aims to eliminate one or all the three elements above. For instance, if you gave consent, whether implied or actual, your case may be dismissed. The following are other defenses a person can use to justify imprisonment:
In America, it is against the law for a creditor or a collection agency to detain you due to an outstanding debt. You can sue them for false imprisonment if the three elements discussed above are met.
If you have debt collectors threatening to arrest you for owing a debt, you have a strong defense if the matter goes to court. Fortunately, SoloSuit is here to help you fight off debt collectors in and out of court.
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