False imprisonment or false arrest takes place when a citizen is deprived of his or her liberty and the police do not have an arrest warrant and do not have probable cause to arrest the individual. The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects us from arbitrary or capricious deprivations of our liberty. We are protected by the requirement that an officer have an arrest warrant signed by a neutral and informed magistrate in which the magistrate is convinced by the testimony of an officer that the citizen committed the crime. In exigent circumstances, an alternative to the arrest warrant, an officer may arrest if the officer has reasonable justification based on an objective review of the facts known to the officer, labeled probable cause, that the target of the imminent arrest committed a criminal act.
The touchstone of a false arrest or false imprisonment charge is the deprivation of the liberty of the person coming into contact with the police. A deprivation occurs when the individual is not free to leave. As such, a deprivation includes handcuffing and jail. Detention at a traffic stop or at a store based on the commands or acts of the officers also constitutes deprivation of liberty so that a person has a claim against law enforcement even if the person is not placed in handcuffs.
A common scenario is the arrest based on a mistaken identity. In other words an innocent person is falsely accused. In order for the case to be viable , there must be a vast difference between the physical appearance of the arrested and the physical description of the suspect provided to law enforcement.
The rights of free speech and the right of freedom of association enshrined in the First Amendment to the U.S. constitution go hand in hand with rights against unreasonable seizure (false imprisonment ) contained in the Fourth Amendment.
A witness to police brutality used his cellphone to film the acts of violence committed by the police against his friend and is arrested. The police falsely claimed this bystander had interfered with the arrest and presented a threat to the officers’ safety. The arresting officer damaged the cellphone and then confiscated the phone as “evidence.” This citizen has the First Amendment right to comment on a matter of public interest, police brutality occurring in public, and the right to associate with whom he chooses to associate. Using the protections afforded by the constitution, we negotiated a very favorable settlement after all parties had provided sworn deposition testimony.
Police officers often wrongly arrest an innocent person on the charge of battery against a law enforcement officer without violence. This amorphous charge is often levied against those who question a police officer’s conduct on duty, or as above, to silence bystanders who have witnessed police misconduct. Those who are stopped and detained by police have the constitutional right to question the officer on why the citizen is detained or arrested. We represented an individual who shouted “F the Police” at a mall. The individual is detained and spent an afternoon in jail. During pre-suit negotiations, we persuaded the city that the detainee had lawfully exercised his right of free speech.
The false imprisonment victim received generous financial compensation and a letter of apology from the city.
If you are looking for a police misconduct lawyer in Pembroke Pines/Miramar, contact Law Office of Oscar Syger!