Being “thrown in a jail” is a scary concept. Being thrown in jail when you did not do anything wrong, however, can also be demeaning and infuriating. What can you do in this situation to right a wrong? If you are wrongfully imprisoned in the state of California, you may have legal recourse to sue those responsible. Ultimately, a court could award you a monetary compensation for the emotional and physical effects of your ordeal. Contact our criminal attorneys in LA right away if you believe you were the victim of a wrongful imprisonment.
What Is Wrongful Imprisonment?
Wrongful imprisonment, or false imprisonment, is the act of deliberately taking away a person’s freedom without being legally allowed or justified to do so. A person can be stripped of his or her freedom by force, physical barriers (like a jail cell), threats, or through being tricked (deceit or fraud).
False arrest is also a form of wrongful imprisonment. If you are arrested by an officer of the law without a warrant, you may be able to sue for false arrest. You may also be able to sue for false arrest if you are arrested by a private citizen who does not have a legitimate reason to make a citizen’s arrest.
The state of California does not recognize false arrest and false imprisonment as two separate claims. False arrest is instead considered a more specific way of saying “false imprisonment.” Therefore, if you have a claim for false arrest, it would be filed with the court as “false imprisonment” in California.
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What If The Arresting Officer Has A Warrant?
Wrongful imprisonment can occur even if a warrant was issued before the arrest. A warrant issued as the result of a fraudulent claim made by an officer can lead to an illegitimate arrest. It is difficult to prove wrongful imprisonment once a warrant has been issued. This is because illegitimate warrants can be made to appear valid as the law often shields officers. If an officer can prove that he or she was reasonably doing his or her job, then he has not violated your rights – even if the experience caused you a great deal of distress at the time.
The arrest may still be considered lawful even if an officer admits to not having a warrant, provided the officer can show that he had a valid reason to make the arrest. For instance, if someone commits a crime in the officer’s presence, he is within his right to arrest that person without a warrant. Even though we have been very cautious in your ability to prove an invalid arrest warrant, an experienced attorney might still believe that an invalid warrant was indeed issued in your case.
Can You Be Falsely Arrested By A Peace Officer?
Yes, you can in the state of California. A peace officer is not limited to but can be any of the following:
- A park ranger
- A correctional officer
- A transit officer
- A fire marshal
- A welfare fraud investigator
How Can A Private Citizen Be Guilty Of Wrongful Imprisonment?
In the state of California, a private citizen has the right to make a citizen’s arrest. A citizen’s arrest occurs when a private citizen either restrains a perpetrator himself until the police arrive, or calls for an officer, leading to the perpetrator’s arrest.
A citizen’s arrest is lawful if the private citizen can prove that the perpetrator either committed a crime or was about to commit a crime. This is often seen in cases of shoplifting. If a merchant suspects someone of shoplifting, then he or she has the right to restrain the perpetrator until the police arrive. In this example, the merchant may be guilty of wrongful imprisonment if he or she was unreasonable in detaining the suspected shoplifter. This would mean arresting someone who never gave the merchant a valid reason to believe they stole anything nor were about to steal something.
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When Can You Sue For Wrongful Imprisonment?
You may be able to sue for wrongful imprisonment if (1) you are innocent of the crime you were charged with and (2) there was no reason to suspect you of the crime. You may be entitled to additional damages on top of that if you were injured during the arrest or restrained for an unreasonable amount of time.
If you are unsure as to whether you may have a case for wrongful imprisonment, let us help you. Give us a call at 310-997-4688, or fill out the form to the right for a FREE consultation with one of our respected attorneys.