False imprisonment is when a person forcibly restrains another against their will with a risk of being seriously injured or killed.  False imprisonment is a common-law felony and a tort. Any person that intentionally restricts another from any kind of movement or freedom without their consent can be liable for false imprisonment.

What Are the Elements of False Imprisonment?

All states have their own laws that deal with false imprisonment charges and protect people from unlawful confinement. For someone to bring a civil suit for a false imprisonment claim there are several elements that must be proved. A person can be guilty of false imprisonment if the person:

  • Said any words or committed any acts with the intent to confine the victim;
  • The victim was actually confined for some time; and
  • The victim was aware that they were being confined
  • The detention was unlawful and willful

Of these elements of proof, the last one is particularly important.  The plaintiff needs to be aware of their confinement.  So, if for example they are asleep when confined and unaware of the situation, the defendant likely won’t be found guilty of false imprisonment.

In some jurisdictions, the victim cannot have a reasonable means of escape in order for false imprisonment to occur.  Also, note acts of omission can also form the basis for false imprisonment (such as intentionally failing to unlock a door if a person is trapped inside).

What is False Imprisonment of a Minor?

False imprisonment of a minor occurs when the victim is younger than the age of majority (usually 18 years old in most states).  False imprisonment of a minor is a serious crime and is usually punished more severely than false imprisonment of an adult.  This is due to concerns over kidnapping and detaining children without parental consent.

False imprisonment of a minor generally does not occur if the defendant is related to the child and if they acted with the consent of the child’s parents.

What is False Imprisonment in the Workplace?

False imprisonment in the workplace occurs when a supervisor or manager detains a worker in a way that is unreasonable and causes harm to the worker.  For example, if an employer uses a threat of force to detain a worker longer than is normally asked of them, it may be considered false imprisonment in the workplace.

Most instances of false imprisonment in the workplace involve a supervisor interrogating an employee over a dispute or conflict.  Thus, employers need to exercise caution whenever they detain a worker, especially if the detention is not a normal part of the worker’s routine.

What Are Some Examples of False Imprisonment?

There are several ways a person can be confined against their will or freedom to move. Examples of false imprisonment may include:

  • A person locking someone in a room without their permission
  • A person holding someone down in a way that they can’t move
  • Grabbing someone
  • Detaining someone for a period that is beyond the necessary amount
  • A security guard detaining you for an unreasonable amount of time

What are Some Legal Remedies for False Imprisonment?

When analyzing a false imprisonment case, the court will also consider the appropriate legal remedy.  These typically include a monetary compensation award for any injuries or suffering the plaintiff experienced due to the confinement.  The defendant may have to pay for the plaintiff’s medical bills and other court costs.

Also, if the plaintiff’s injuries caused them to miss work, the plaintiff may be entitled to collect lost wages for the time off from work.  In severe cases, the defendant will likely face criminal charges in addition to any civil liability that they have incurred.

Are There Any Legal Defenses If I Am Accused of False Imprisonment?

Standard defenses usually apply in a false imprisonment case.  These can include self-defense (they confined the person in order to avoid being attacked) and coercion (i.e., being forced to confine the plaintiff by another person who is threatening to harm them if they don’t).

Do I Need an Attorney for my False Imprisonment Issues?

If you feel that you may have been injured by being falsely imprisoned, you should contact a personal injury attorney or a government lawyer experienced in personal injury suits for false imprisonment and /or false arrest. Additionally, an attorney will inform you of your rights and preserve any possible legal remedies you may have.