False imprisonment in terms of police misconduct occurs when an individual is held - as in confined - against his or her will by law enforcement without legal justification. False imprisonment claims often arise in the context of a police officer impermissibly and unreasonably detaining an individual without legal justification, i.e., impeding the individual’s freedom of movement. False imprisonment is one of the most common forms of police misconduct.
Police could commit false imprisonment in a number of ways. For instance:
- Use of threats to confine or detain an individual;
- Use of police authority to impermissibly detain someone, for example, on the street or for questioning;
- Physically restraining an individual without justification;
- Placing someone in handcuffs without any legal justification to do so;
- Locking an individual in the back of a cop car with no justification;
- Locking an individual in a room, such as an interrogation room or jail cell, and not allowing them to leave; or
- Preventing an individual from leaving his or her own home.
A victim who had a reasonable belief that he or she was being confined or detained may have an actionable false imprisonment claim against law enforcement.
What Is Not Considered False Imprisonment?
Confinement is not false imprisonment if the individual who is being confined is free or able to leave their confinement. For instance, if it would be easy to break away from an officer’s physical grip, it may not be considered false imprisonment. Similarly, if law enforcement is preventing someone from exiting a room through a specific door, but there are other, unguarded doors, the individual is not falsely imprisoned. Law enforcement could also be blocking a person’s path, but so long as the person could turn around and go the other direction, it is not false imprisonment. A person who is lawfully arrested also cannot make a false imprisonment claim, nor can someone who is lawfully arrested and then later cleared of the charges made against them bring a claim for false imprisonment.
False imprisonment by law enforcement can be a scary situation, and while it is happening, you may not know what to do. You should discuss your false imprisonment situation with the civil rights attorneys at Napoli Shkolnik, PLLC. After a discussion about the facts surrounding your false imprisonment claim, we can help you determine if you have an actionable claim of police misconduct and we can help you seek the justice you deserve. Contact us today to discuss your false imprisonment claim, or to learn more about your civil rights.