False Imprisonment is Happening more often than You Think

False imprisonment is considered a “lesser included offense” of kidnapping; being such, it is considered unlawful because it involves the illegal detention of another individual even if the person guilty of the act has no actual serious or evil intent.

False imprisonment, otherwise known as false arrest or wrongful arrest, happens when a person takes into custody, or holds or keeps another individual against his/her will. This mistake usually happens when a person is falsely accused of a crime or when a person wrongfully brings criminal charges against another; it can be committed by private citizens or law enforces, particularly those who act outside or beyond the limits of their authority. Examples of false imprisonment include: a person holding another individual (against the latter’s will) inside any confined place; a worker or a security guard detaining someone accused of having committed a crime (despite lack of proof); and, detaining someone for personal gain, due to false information or simply due to pure malice.

As explained by The Benton Law Firm, false imprisonment occurs when one person prevents another person from leaving a specified area without their consent. This can happen for any length of time and is frequently seen in kidnapping cases. While falsely imprisoning someone is a criminal offense, it can additionally be brought in civil court to compensate the victim for any harm done by the perpetrator.

In the state of Texas, specifically, Texas law defines false imprisonment as meeting the following four criteria:

  • Nonconsensual confinement of victim
  • Confinement must be intentional
  • Victim has to have knowledge that they are imprisoned
  • Victim is not aware of any means of escape

False imprisonment cases are in the news more often than you think. Kidnapping claims are often highlighted in the news, but many do not involve only a few hours of imprisonment. However, these charges are often tied together with other criminal charges such as kidnapping, sexual assault, and unlawful restraint. You are able to pursue civil charges separately from any criminal charges brought against an attacker by proving the above elements in a civil court. A civil court additionally has a lower burden of proof to demonstrate that the attacker falsely imprisoned you. In criminal court, the prosecutor must prove that the attacker committed false imprisonment “beyond a reasonable doubt,” while in civil court, the attorney for the victim must only prove that the attacker held someone against their will “by a preponderance of the evidence.”

Filing a claim for damages, however, will only be honored by a court if it can be proven that the victim is not guilty of whatever he or she has been accused of. If a person is guilty, though, but the procedure of his/her arrest was not done correctly, like when there was no just cause or if he/she was not read his/her Miranda Rights, then the court may have the criminal charge brought against him/her dismissed, but he/she will not be granted the right to file for damages.

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