Wrongful imprisonment, also called false imprisonment, is an intentional tort. It can also be a crime.

How Is Wrongful Imprisonment Defined as an Intentional Tort?

Wrongful imprisonment is the volitional act, done with the requisite intent, of confining the plaintiff to a specific area without their consent. The wrongful act causes the plaintiff some kind of harm, whether it is physical or psychological.

What Are the Elements for Wrongful Imprisonment?

Generally, three elements are required for a plaintiff to successful prove that they were wrongly imprisoned:

  • The defendant unlawfully detained the plaintiff
  • The act was done against the plaintiff’s will
  • The act was done without legal justification

What Are Some Examples of False Imprisonment?

Wrongful imprisonment includes making threats, or using force or authority to confine someone against their will. Physical force is typically used, but it is not required to satisfy the first element of false imprisonment.

In the second element, the plaintiff must be aware of the confinement. In fact, he must have a reasonable belief he was confined to a space. For example, assume that an employee was locked in their office by their boss for three hours, but the employee was unaware that they were locked in and not free to leave the office. This confinement would not be wrongful imprisonment because the employee was unaware of the confinement.

In addition, the defendant must not have the right to confine the plaintiff. This means that a legal arrest by the police would not count as false imprisonment.

Some other types of false imprisonment include the defendant:

  • Keeping a possession of the plaintiff, forcing the plaintiff to stay in a certain place
  • Physically restraining holding the plaintiff so they cannot leave
  • Medicating the plaintiff without permission
  • Detaining the plaintiff to question them without having the proper authority to do so

Are There Defenses to False Imprisonment?

Yes. Defenses to false imprisonment include:

Should I Contact an Attorney about Wrongful Imprisonment?

If you were wrongfully imprisoned, speak to a personal injury attorney about filing a case. In a civil case, a defendant may have to pay you monetary damages because of the physical, mental, or emotional injury you received.