Aggressive Advocates For Your Rights

How to tell if a police officer committed false imprisonment

Police officers are supposed to keep Pennsylvania residents safe from crime, but they must also respect the rights of all civilians. Part of police duty is to make sure arrests are lawful and free from any abuse of their authority.

Law enforcement is subject to many federal rules regarding arrests, but individual officers – or even entire departments – are prone to violating these laws. Arrests without proper care and legal justification are a form of false imprisonment. But how can a resident tell the difference between fair detention and false arrest?

Nationwide, a claim for false imprisonment needs to prove three things, including:

  1. The officer intentionally detained you
  2. You did not agree to be detained
  3. The arrest or detention was not lawful

The third item on that list is vital. Lawful arrests generally need probable cause or a valid warrant. At the time you are detained, you might not know whether the officer has a good reason. Usually, the arresting officer will give an explanation, but not all situations require this disclosure. Without a warrant or probable cause, you may be able to argue false imprisonment later in court.

Illegal discrimination might commonly play a role in false arrest or imprisonment cases. Imagine that a police officer stopped a group of black friends, who were simply walking along the sidewalk, and refused to let them leave for over an hour. The friends were not trespassing nor were they suspects in an ongoing investigation. The officer reported that they merely “looked suspicious.” However, a court may find that the officer violated their 4th Amendment rights, perhaps with racial profiling.

Determining whether an arrest was legal can be extremely tricky. If you believe an officer illegally detained you, it may be time to consult an attorney. Your situation must be handled with skill to yield justice.

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