An example of false imprisonment can be found in the Ariel Castro case that rocked the nation in 2013. Over eleven years, he abducted three women on separate occasions and held them captive in his home. Each lady was offered a ride by Mr. Castro, but instead of taking them to their destination, he took them to his residence and did not permit them to leave. False imprisonment was the cause of these women’s incarceration.
The crime of false imprisonment, also known as unlawful imprisonment in the first degree, occurs when someone restrains another person or prevents them from leaving a certain location without their consent. If a person is held against their will in a vehicle, building, street, etc., their movement can be restricted.
The purpose of this article is to provide you with more information on false imprisonment by explaining the situations that qualify as false imprisonment, the elements required, and viable defenses.
What Situations Qualify As False Imprisonment
False imprisonment cannot be deemed in all circumstances. Even though you believe you were confined, the court must determine whether your belief was reasonable. Moreover, a judge must determine what a reasonable person would do or believe in the same situation. False imprisonment is defined as the following situations:
- The act of taking someone hostage during a robbery
- Without the consent of the individual, locking them in a room
- The act of coercing someone to stay in a particular place because you possess something valuable for them
- Keeping an individual physically confined and preventing them from leaving
- Keeping an employee in an unreasonable amount of time on suspicion of a crime
- Intentionally medicating an individual with the goal of restraint without their consent
What Situations Do Not Qualify As False Imprisonment
It is possible to believe that you have been falsely imprisoned, but the situation does not qualify as false imprisonment under the law’s definition. False imprisonment does not apply to the following situations:
- The door is left open for you to leave at any time even though you are asked not to leave
- You can easily free yourself from someone grabbing your clothing
- An owner of a store detaining you for a short period on suspicion that you have stolen an item
What Elements Are Required In A False Imprisonment Case?
False imprisonment must be proven as a tort (personal injury claim) in a civil lawsuit by demonstrating the following three factors. It is important to note that your case cannot be successful if one element is missing.
1. You Were Detained Without Your Consent
To establish false imprisonment, you must be convinced that you were confined as a result of the other person’s actions. It will be considered by the court whether another reasonable person would believe that a person is being detained. By completing this step, you will be able to determine whether your belief was reasonable or not.
2. Detention Without Lawful Justification
The person who restrains you must be able to prove that he or she had a legal reason to hold you against your will.
3. Intentional Detention
It must be intentional or wilful on the part of the person who is detaining you. An individual who is accidentally locked in a room while another individual is on the other side of the room does not qualify as a false prisoner. Through intimidation or force, wrongful detention prevents a person from leaving.
Here’s an example of false imprisonment that happened in Louisiana.
As an example, a pharmacist who was suspicious of a patient’s prescription (despite the doctor calling earlier about it) advised her to wait for her medication, instead of calling the police. In jail, the law enforcement officials confirmed that the prescription was legitimate after arresting the patient. After receiving $20,000 in damages, the patient sued the pharmacy and its employees. Nevertheless, an appeals court reversed the judgment, finding that the three elements of false imprisonment had not been met.
False Imprisonment: Viable Defenses
False imprisonment defenses usually aim to eliminate one or more of the three elements listed above. In some cases, your case may be dismissed if you gave consent, whether implied or actual. Other defenses that can be used to justify imprisonment include:
- Citizen’s arrest: When someone commits or attempts to commit a crime, someone other than a law enforcement officer makes an arrest.
- The shopkeeper’s privilege: Shop owners are allowed to detain suspects to verify their identity, confirm the purchase of an item, or as they await police.
- The police privilege: Police officers are entitled to detain a person for probable cause in all states. When a person has engaged in wrongdoing or is suspected of committing a crime, he or she may be detained.
You Cannot Be Falsely Imprisoned By Your Creditors
Creditors and collection agencies are prohibited from detaining you as a result of an outstanding debt in the United States of America. If the three elements discussed above are met, you may be able to sue them for false imprisonment.
A debt collector who threatens to arrest you for owing a debt has a strong defense if the matter proceeds to court. With our help, you can fight off debt collectors in and out of court.