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False Arrest

Under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, people are protected from unreasonable seizure by the police. This can include a seizure of your person, which is also known as false arrest. False arrest is a form of false imprisonment that is being done by someone who claims to have the authority to make an arrest. When you are unreasonably held by law enforcement under the authority of the law, it can be considered a false arrest and a violation of your civil rights. Such police misconduct should never be tolerated, and you should seek recovery by speaking with an experienced police misconduct lawyer about your false arrest claim.

Police must have probable cause that the person they are arresting committed a crime in order to make a legal arrest. This means that the officer must have facts sufficient to cause a reasonable person to believe that the person being arrested committed a crime, or the police officer must possess a valid arrest warrant or court order to make a legal arrest.


What Is Required for A False Arrest Claim?

Generally speaking, a false arrest claim exists when a victim can show that:

  • A police officer used force or their authority in order to restrain the victim against his or her will;
  • The victim reasonably believes that he or she is not free to leave, i.e., that the victim has no choice and cannot leave without facing retaliation; and
  • The police officer intentionally restricts the freedom of the victim without probable cause to do so, i.e., the officer must have a legitimate reason to make the arrest.

When Can Police Make An Arrest?

When a police officer is doing his or her job correctly, the officer can legally make an arrest in several scenarios without violating the Fourth Amendment rights of the individual being arrested.

For instance, an arrest is legal when:

  • The officer has probable cause to believe that the person being held committed a crime;
  • The officer personally witnessed the person commit a crime; or
  • The officer has information at the time of the arrest that is sufficient to get an arrest warrant, and makes an arrest, only to later discover that the information was fabricated or inaccurate (because at the time the warrant was issued, the officer thought he or she was acting on good information, the arrest is justified).


It is also possible that an arrest could start out legally justified, but then could become illegal, for instance if the individual is detained for longer that permitted under the law.

No one should ever be subjected to an arrest that is unjustified and in violation of your civil rights. The civil rights attorneys at Napoli Shkolnik, PLLC have helped countless victims seek the justice that they deserve when law enforcement oversteps their legal purview by making a false arrest. Contact us today to discuss your false arrest claim, or to learn more about your civil rights.