Held Against Your Will: What To Know About False Imprisonment

It's not often that an act garners two different types of charges and can be litigated in two different courts of law, but false imprisonment may be one of the few where this happens. When you have been held against your will or you are led to believe that you cannot leave, that is false imprisonment. The perpetrator can be charged with both a criminal offense and you can file a lawsuit in civil court for the same incident. Read on to learn more about seeking personal injury damages for false imprisonment.

Three elements of a false imprisonment claim

If you are pretty certain that this has happened to you, you might want to take look at what the law views as the three elements that must be present for it to be a valid claim.

1. The detention was willful. In other words, the perpetrator had the intention to detain you and it was not incidental or accidental.

2. The detention was carried out without your consent.

3. The detention was against the law.

Against your will

There are somewhat broad circumstances where false imprisonment can occur. It's not necessary that restraints, physical force or violence be used for it to be false imprisonment, but often these are present. There must be some sort of either a physical or virtual barrier against escape, however. For example, if a person grabs a cell phone, purse, wallet or other belongings of the victim and holds them without permission then the victim is being coerced into remaining at the scene in order to get their things back. You could consider the threat of losing your belongings as coercion and this can be a virtual barrier to escape.

Some examples of false imprisonment

  1. A nursing home or hospital patient is given sedating medication without their knowledge or consent.
  2. A person is locked into a room without their consent.
  3. A police officer detains someone in a locked room without reading them their Miranda Rights.
  4. A person is held for questioning by their employer about an incident of theft at the business for an unreasonable period of time.

These examples are not considered false imprisonment

  1. Being legally arrested and then found not guilty of a crime.
  2. Being told to stay in a room but the room is not locked and you believe you can leave the room without suffering any consequences.
  3. Your arm is held in an attempt to detain you, but you can easily free your arm. Note: this does not refer to law enforcement actions; you must never attempt to elude detention from the police.
  4. Being detained and questioned for a reasonable period of time by a store owner who suspects you of theft.

If you have been detained against your will speak to a personal injury lawyer and have your case evaluated. You may be entitled to money damages such as medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.