False imprisonment can be tried in criminal or civil court as an intentional tort. Each case must meet the four elements listed below, but state laws can set different criteria within each element to define misdemeanor and felony crimes.

Work with a local attorney to learn how the elements of false imprisonment apply in your state.

Intentional Restraint

The first and most important element is the restraint or confinement of an individual. This can be literal, such as locking a door or tethering someone in place. It can also be implied based on threats or erratic behavior.

As long as the victim is unable to leave or reasonably believes it’s too dangerous to do so, false imprisonment occurs.

Restrained Without Consent

If someone gives explicit consent to be restrained, it’s not false imprisonment. However, giving consent under duress is considered unlawful imprisonment.

For example, when an armed robber asks bank tellers to drop to the floor, they are consenting only under the threat of violence. It satisfies the second element since they’re being held against their will.

Awareness of the Restraint

Individuals must be aware that they are being restrained to meet the third element.

Different charges apply if someone is unconscious, intoxicated, too young or otherwise unable to understand the restriction on their movement. Exploitation often applies to cases where individuals aren’t aware of restraint instead of false imprisonment.

Restrained Without Authority

Finally, the fourth element is met if the person charged with the crime has no legal authority or justifiable reason to restrain someone else.

For instance, false imprisonment doesn’t apply to a store security guard detaining a thief while they wait for an arresting officer. However, it does apply to the above bank robber who is restraining victims while the crime is committed.

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personal injury,

Last Update: June 17, 2024