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False Imprisonment

False imprisonment is defined as the act of intentionally confining a person without the legal authority to do so. Some scenarios that may include false imprisonment are the taking of hostages during a bank robbery or the detainment of a customer by the business owner for failure to pay the bill.

 

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There are different elements to the false imprisonment tort law and those include:

  • a purpose to detain another individual against their will
  • the act of carrying out this purpose
  • the resulting detainment of the individual against their will
  • no means of escape, which does not include a means that endangers personal safety
  • the person confined must also be aware of the confinement
  • the person committing the act must not have legal authority to do so

A law enforcement official has the authority to detain a person if there is reason to believe that the person has committed a crime. A police officer can also confine a person if they have reason to believe that the person detained has been, or will be, involved in a crime. The police officer must have facts to support this belief.

A storeowner also has a shopkeeper's privilege, which allows him to hold an individual that is suspected to have committed the act of theft on the premises of the business for a short period of time. The storeowner must have cause to believe that the person detained has or will commit or attempt to commit theft of store property.

This detainment must only last for a short period-of-time and is not as broad as the police officer's right to detain. In order for a storeowner to detain a suspected shoplifter and not instigate false imprisonment, all the following criteria must be met:

  • Investigating the individual on or near store property. The detention must be held on the store property or nearby. Actual detainment must be done on the store premises but the owner is allowed to chase the suspected person if the person runs from the store or property. The detainment's only purpose must be to decide if property of the suspect is stolen goods. It is not lawful to try to force a confession from the person.
  • Reasonable belief. The owner must have reason to believe that the person detained has or is about to steal property.
  • Use of reasonable force only. Using force is allowed if the suspected person runs or tries to resist detention. The force must be reasonable and non-deadly. The owner may not handcuff the person, force them to lie or sit on the ground, and they also must allow the person to look for a receipt.
  • Short time period and reasonable manner of detainment. The detention may only be for a very short time, and usually never more than fifteen minutes. The detainment must also be held in a reasonable manner.

If a person feels that they have a case for false imprisonment, they must prove wilful detention without their consent, and that the person detaining them did not have lawful authority.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 


 

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