A false arrest, which is also referred as a false imprisonment or a wrongful arrest, happens when a person – either a law enforcer or a private citizen – wrongfully detains a person against his or her will or takes them into custody without proper and legal authorization. Technically, it is a crime and causes harm to the arrested individual, mental distress, and embarrassment, even if the arrest was clearly illegal, and you were evidently innocent. If this happens to you, can you sue for false arrest then?
Since a false arrest is considered a crime, so yes, suing for wrongful arrest is absolutely possible. And even if you have been wrongfully arrested and/or held for only a few hours, then that can already be grounds for filing a false arrest lawsuit. Moreover, a wrongful arrest violates your freedom and can cause big problems in your everyday life, family, work, and other endeavors. As a result, the lawsuit can also be a way for you to get civil damages for the pain a false arrest have caused you.
What Makes a False or Wrongful Arrest?
A person commits the crime of false arrest when he or she restricts or violates another individual’s freedom without the consent of the latter. A common example of a false arrest is locking a person inside the house without his or her permission. Another situation is arresting a person without a reasonable cause and without mentioning the Miranda Rights of the suspect. Here are other wrongful arrest situations as cited by LawFirms:
– Arresting someone with an arrest warrant that a police officer obtains, containing false information given to the court
– Arresting a person due to incompetence
– Arresting an individual based on his or her race, on pure malice, and for personal interest
Meanwhile, kidnapping is almost an act of false arrest since both of them involve illegal detention of the arrested person. However, it is a more serious and more dangerous crime because the kidnapper can intentionally harm the victim, ask for a ransom in exchange for the victim, do other acts of a felony offense. In some states, it is also considered kidnapping when the victim is moved from one place to another. False imprisonment, on the other hand, is referred to as a lesser included offense of kidnapping because it involves similar acts with kidnapping, but it does not have serious motives.
Difference Between a False Arrest by a Police Officer and a Private Citizen
A police officer has committed a false arrest when he or she acts beyond the scope of their authority or power. For instance, the officer arrested a person based on another person’s statement, which was found out to be untrue. However, if the judge issued a warrant of arrest based on that false statement, the arresting police is doing a proper arrest.
Meanwhile, a private citizen, like a security guard, can commit a false arrest when he or she detains a person without consent and without lawful authority. However, they can detain a suspected individual until the police arrive if they are sure that the person committed a crime. But if there is no probable cause or evidence to prove the allegations, then the private citizen has no right to hold the suspected person.
Other Bases for Suing for Wrongful Arrest
What other bases can you sue for false arrest? Aside from causing harm, mental distress, embarrassment, and violation of personal freedom due to illegal detention for a few hours, suing for wrongful arrest has other basis or grounds where you can seek for civil damages. These are the following:
– Wage loss
– Damage to the person’s reputation
– Physical harm during or as a result of the false arrest
– Illness caused by the false arrest
– Death caused by the wrongful arrest
– Excessive force
– Malicious prosecution and wrongful conviction