What Constitutes a "False Arrest?"

A false arrest, false imprisonment or a bad arrest are different things in the eyes of the law, and it is not only a law enforcement officer who can commit these crimes.

Basically, a false arrest is when someone intentionally limits your personal freedom without your consent. If someone locks you in your home against your will, that is a false arrest or false imprisonment.

Many people mistakenly believe that a false arrest committed by a police officer is one that is not supported by evidence. However, to be guilty of false arrest, an officer must either act without authority or beyond the scope of his or her powers.

For example, if an arrest warrant has been issued for you based on someone else’s false testimony, this is not false arrest. If an officer arrests you based on evidence he or she believed was true at the time, this is more commonly known as a bad arrest. Your remedy for redress is likely a civil action against the person who made the false statement.

However, if you are arrested because you said or did something a police officer didn’t like, this can be considered false arrest since these acts are not crimes. You would likely have a valid civil claim against the officer in this case, but it is important that if this ever happens to you, you do not resist arrest. Even if you know there are no grounds to arrest you, resisting arrest will only lead to more problems for you, including a real arrest, jail or fines.

Other people, such as private security guards, can also commit false arrest. If a shopper is detained or not allowed to leave a store even if the security guard did not see her take anything nor did anyone else, this could be a case of false arrest. On the other hand, a security guard can temporarily detain someone who is suspected of shoplifting if they have a reasonable belief the crime has occurred and need to investigate.

Civil suits for false arrest can also be brought in federal court if they involve a violation of your civil rights. These cases are usually brought when law enforcement officials use unreasonable or excessive force while performing their official duties.

If you believe that you have been a victim of false arrest or that your civil rights have been violated, you need to consult with a criminal defense attorney right away.

The Cogdell Law Firm is a boutique law firm focusing on large, complex business and criminal financial-related litigation, including white collar criminal defense, securities fraud, health care fraud investigation, criminal appeals and state criminal defense. When results matter most, contact Dan Cogdell at (713) 426-2244 or dan@cogdell-law.com.