False Imprisonment occurs when a person is denied their freedom of movement or personal liberty without any legal justification for such. For a person to be seen as falsely imprisoned before the law, the restraint on their freedom and liberty must be total.
From the ongoing, we see that unlawful bodily restraints or arrests by police can amount to false Imprisonment. It is called false imprisonment because it is not sanctioned by any lawful authority. A false imprisonment breaches the fundamental rights of persons guaranteed under the various enabling laws of the country.
Lord Edward, Coke CJ stated thus on the issue –
“Every restraint of the liberty of a free man is imprisonment although he be not within the walls of any common prison”.
In summary, False Imprisonment involves –
• Denying a person their freedom of movement and liberty;
• A person is compelled to stay where they do not wish to remain;
• Restraint of the person’s movement and liberty can occur anywhere;
• They person need not be subjected to bodily harm;
• The use of authority, trick, request, order and influence to subdue another and restrict their movement.
What to Do After Being Falsely Imprisoned
The main purpose of the law of False Imprisonment is to protect people’s right to their liberty and freedom of movement as guaranteed them in the constitution.
Say you were wrongfully accused of shoplifting and detained by the security or staff and it turned out to be a lie, you can bring an action in tort for false imprisonment.
Once you are out of the confinement or restraint, you can easily meet a lawyer and cause an action to be instituted on your behalf should you wish to pursue damages. This is just one of the instances where it can happen. A girl that visited a guy who refused to let her go when she wants to and locks the door is liable and has commited false imprisonment.
• For Police Cases: Who is Liable, the Police or Police Caller?
If you caused police to arrest and detain someone at your behest, you will be held liable alongside the police officer(s) who executed the arrest if it turns out to be borne out of malice or other intentions. This means that you will be prosecuted as a joint tortfeasor with them.
• When Can I Falsely Imprison Someone Against their will?
a) In self defense or defence of another who you are morally and legally obliged to protect.
b) For Medical Treatment and Care
c) Lawful Court Order
d) Lawful arrest, Detention, Stop and Search.
e) Reasonable Chastisement in case or Parents or Guardian.
From the foregoing, confinement in prison or police cell need not happen for it to be false imprisonment. Mere holding of the arm of the person (like in police) is sufficient. Therefore, one can be confined to a vehicle, house, mine, street, hidden facility, bush, etc.
Therefore, any unlawful restraint placed on anyone by a person without the legal authority to do so amounts to false imprisonment and the person is liable while the conduct is actionable with or without bodily harm/damage.