Wrongful Arrest Lawsuit: Types

Wrongful Arrest Lawsuit

It may constitute wrongful arrest if someone in positions of power or control holds you against your will. A wrongful arrest lawsuit is a divisive and wide-ranging subject. For instance, what is a wrongful arrest? What are the types of wrongful arrests? Here are the answers to these and a plethora of other queries. 

Definition Of Terms

Arrest: The act of catching and placing someone under custody, usually because they are suspected of committing a crime or have been seen doing one, is known as an arrest. When the seizure is complete, an arrest is made regardless of whether it is legal or not. In the criminal justice system, an arrest is a process that is occasionally carried out following a court order.

Wrongful Arrest: Legally speaking, a wrongful arrest is the unjustifiable restriction of someone’s freedom of movement. In that instance, one person detains or arrests another without that person’s consent or legal right to do so. 

Criteria for Establishing Whether an Arrest Was Wrongful or Illegal

The court inserted three standards into the law to determine whether an unlawful arrest qualifies as a violation of the 4th Amendment since police officers often make honest mistakes about who they choose to arrest. Among these prerequisites are:

The individual must believe they are not free to leave (i.e., they must be handcuffed, put in a police cruiser, or locked in a room), and the officer must have purposefully restricted the person’s freedom of movement without probable cause. The officer must also use force or a show of authority to restrain the individual.

It may be challenging to establish the second condition and, consequently, the wrongful arrest, if the officer expressly declares the subject is not under arrest or requests that the subject accompany him.

Wrongful Arrest Lawsuit: Types of Wrongful Arrests

The most frequent reason for wrongful arrests is when a retail store owner or staff detains a customer against their will because they have reasonable suspicion that the customer committed a crime there. Other forms of unjustified arrests include

  • An incorrect person being arrested;
  • The taking of a person into custody without first reading them their Miranda rights;
  • Arbitrary detention
  • An individual’s arrest without a reasonable suspicion that they have committed a crime;
  • Detention without a valid warrant;
  • An arrest made according to a warrant obtained using deceitful court testimony;
  • Arrests of any kind made for private benefit;
  • Any arrests made only based on race and any that the police officer made out of malice. 

Wrongful Arrest Lawsuit: False Arrest as a Violation of Civil Rights

Claims that police violated an arrestee’s civil rights are frequently the subject of lawsuits involving police arrests. The Civil Rights Act of 1871 is the federal statute that permits citizens to sue the government for violating their civil rights, including making an unconstitutional arrest.

Read about “Section 1983” cases for additional details, including treatment of the defense known as “qualified immunity” that police personnel may assert.

Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Arrests and the Time Frame for False Imprisonment

False incarceration and wrongful arrest are categorized as “intentional torts.” This pertains to the intentional, as opposed to merely careless, commission of a legal transgression against you.

Lawsuits for false detention and unlawful arrest must be filed within six years of the incident. If you have a diagnosable injury that you believe was caused by the police, you have three years to file a potential personal injury claim.

It might be feasible to ask the court for permission to file a claim outside of this window, but this will only be allowed in certain situations and will rely on what brought the proceedings to a delayed start. You won’t be able to pursue a claim if the explanations for the delay are not deemed acceptable.

Factors That an Arrestee Initiating a Lawsuit as a Plaintiff Usually Has to Prove to Establish a Wrongful Arrest Claim

  • The plaintiff was aware that the defendant, who is being sued for wrongful arrest, intended and did detain or confine the plaintiff; 
  • The plaintiff did not permit the detention or confinement; 
  • The detention or confinement was not justified by law.

Desire to Imprison or Detain

An intentional tort is a false arrest. It is insufficient that the defendant acted carelessly or negligently. A deliberate effort to hold or restrict the plaintiff is required for the offender to be held accountable for an unlawful arrest.

Different phrases (usually “detain,” “confine,” or “restrain”) are used by states to refer to the necessary action. The concept remains the same regardless of terminology: The person who has been arrested is in custody and cannot go.

As we go over the upcoming cases, remember that the individual in custody may be able to file a lawsuit for other reasons, such as assault and battery or negligence, even if there isn’t a false arrest claim.

Example: Desire to Retain or Isolate

A shop security guard thought one of the customers was stealing. Based on suspicions of theft, the police questioned the customer at the store’s exit and insisted that they come back to a dressing room for a search. It was obvious that the security guard wanted to hold the customer.

For instance: No Desire to Arrest or Imprison

Just before the store closed, a manager locked the changing room’s main door. The management was unaware that there was still a person in the changing room. There can be no false arrest because the manager had no intention of confining anyone.

Wrongful Arrest Lawsuit: Being Aware of Being Imprisoned or Detained

At the time of the arrest, the subject of the arrest had to have known that they were being held or confined. It is insufficient to learn about incarceration or detention after the event.

When an arrestee is under the influence of drugs or alcohol and lapses into unconsciousness or becomes unintelligent, awareness may be a problem. If not, it’s seldom ever contested.

For instance:  not knowing that you are being held or confined

A man found unconscious and intoxicated on the street was taken to the police station by a police officer, who kept him in a holding cell for a few hours while he “slept it off.” Just before the man awoke, the officer unlocked the door. Even if the officer didn’t have a valid reason to hold him, there was no false arrest because the individual was never aware that he was being held.

Unwillingness to Be Arrested or Imprisoned

When an arrested person consents to being held or confined, there is no false arrest. However, consent must be freely given by the individual. Consent is void if it is obtained by force or under pressure. Consent is typically not an issue because most arrestees vigorously dispute their innocence and oppose being detained.

Detention or Confinement Unjustified by the Law

Whether or not the arrest was lawfully authorized is the main point of contention in wrongful arrest cases. Legally justified—or “privileged,” as attorneys sometimes refer to them—arrests are made if:

either there is a valid reason for the arrest or the “shopkeeper’s privilege” under state law permits the arrest.

Reasons for a Possible Arrest.

When all the facts are considered and a reasonable person could conclude that the arrestee may have committed a crime, there is probable cause to make an arrest. It is not difficult to reach the standard of probable cause.

An arrest warrant is issued by a judge when they have determined there is probable cause to make an arrest. In a similar vein, an officer has probable cause to arrest if they witness someone acting in what appears to be a criminal manner.

For instance: Likelihood of Arrest

An individual approaches a car, smashes the driver’s window, unlocks the door, and uses some sort of instrument to “hot wire” the vehicle, according to an undercover police officer in an unmarked vehicle. The individual speeds off as soon as the engine begins. There is probable cause to arrest since the officer has good reason to suspect that the person stole the car.

The Shopkeeper’s Advantage: 

Employees of a store may be able to arrest someone they have cause to believe is stealing from them under certain states’ “shopkeeper’s privilege.” Although state laws differ, these limitations are generally applicable:

  • One must be present to observe the theft physically. The alleged shoplifting must be seen by the store employee in person, either in person or on video captured by a security camera.
  • Brief confinement. The arrest duration is limited to the amount of time needed for a reasonable inquiry and the arrival of the police.
  • Use of force is restricted. Only when necessary to detain the arrestee until the police arrive may the person conducting the arrest use force.


Is a Police Officer Accountable for Wrongful Detention?

Therefore, if an individual is informed that they are under arrest and they then surrender to the officer, following his instructions and going with him, they are robbed of their freedom, and if the officer’s actions were illegal, they constitute false imprisonment.

May I File a False Imprisonment Lawsuit?

It’s called false imprisonment when someone purposefully and unlawfully restricts another person’s freedom of movement. False imprisonment may be claimed as an intentional tort law claim (civil wrongful act) in a private civil law action.

In Nigeria, Is the Police Department Accountable for Wrongful Detention?

Therefore, even though the police officer never touched the plaintiff, he may be held accountable for false imprisonment if he gives someone the incorrect command to follow him to the police station without giving them the chance to refuse, and the victim complies.

Final Thoughts

False arrests may constitute civil rights violations, with the offending party or parties facing legal repercussions.

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