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What Is False Arrest?

Posted on February 15, 2022 in Criminal Defense,Defense Strategies

False arrest, also known as false imprisonment, is a wrongdoing that is committed by the police when they take someone into custody without legal authority. False arrest can also involve a private party holding someone against their will. It is a crime as well as a civil tort in Arizona, which means a victim of false arrest can file a lawsuit for financial compensation against the perpetrator.

What Makes an Arrest Unlawful?

Being detained, restrained, imprisoned or held by someone without legal authority is false arrest. This includes being detained or arrested by the police if the law enforcement officer does not have a lawful justification for making the arrest. A lawful justification for an arrest can include probable cause, an arrest warrant or the individual’s consent. 

Probable cause is a reasonable basis for making the arrest. It is a requirement found in the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. The police must have probable cause before searching someone, seizing any property or making an arrest. If the police officer does not have probable cause, he or she needs a valid warrant or the individual’s consent to make an arrest.

An arrest warrant is a court order signed by a judge that gives local law enforcement the right to arrest, detain or hold an individual in jail for further legal proceedings. A police officer can arrest the object of a warrant on sight. If the warrant does not adequately name the person to be arrested, does not specify the crime, does not list what court issued the warrant or was written due to a lie told by the police, the warrant is invalid and the arrest is false.

The third legally valid reason to arrest someone is with the individual’s consent, such as if the person turned himself or herself into the police. It is important to note that false arrest does not necessarily involve handcuffs or a jail cell; it only needs confinement or physical restraint. False arrest may or may not involve the use of force. Without the use of force, a false arrest can involve threats, fraud, deceit or duress to confine or restrain an individual.

False Arrest vs. Bad Arrest

There is a distinction between false arrest and a bad arrest under Arizona law. A bad arrest means that while the arresting officer had the legal authority to detain the defendant, this authority came from bad information. For example, if the police obtained an arrest warrant using a fabricated statement, the resulting arrest would be bad, not necessarily false. 

A defendant cannot file a civil lawsuit against the police for false arrest if the arrest was made using bad information. However, the defendant can file a claim against the person who made the false statement. This individual could be arrested for perjury or making a false oath. The individual may also be required to pay the defendant for harm suffered due to a bad arrest.

Can You File a Lawsuit Against the Police for False Arrest?

False arrest is a civil tort, or wrongdoing. This means that a victim of false arrest can file a civil lawsuit against an individual or entity. If you were arrested or detained by the police in Arizona without lawful justification, you may be entitled to financial compensation for the harm done to you. A lawsuit against the police could result in compensation for your lost wages, damage to your reputation, physical pain and suffering, bodily injuries, and emotional distress. 

You can also file an official complaint with the police to demand repercussions against the officer who made the false arrest, such as job suspension or termination. The officer could also face criminal charges for false arrest under federal and state laws. Finally, if you later get charged with a crime, you can file a motion to exclude any evidence obtained from a false arrest. It is important to speak to a criminal defense lawyer in Phoenix for counsel as soon as possible if you suspect false arrest.