False Imprisonment Law & Legal Definition


False imprisonment is defined as consisting of unlawful restraint against the will of an individual's personal liberty or freedom of locomotion. Unlawful detention is the gist of false imprisonment. It is also defined as any intentional detention of the person of another unauthorized by law. False imprisonment is any illegal imprisonment without any process whatever, or under color of process wholly illegal, regardless of whether any crime has been committed, or a debt due. Riegel v. Hygrade Seed Co., 47 F. Supp. 290, 293 (D.N.Y. 1942)

False imprisonment is confining or physically restraining a person, such as by being locked in a car, being tied to a chair or locked in a closet, with no legal authority to hold the person. It is similar to a charge of kidnapping and it usually occurs in conjunction with a false arrest. False imprisonment is often a crime and if proved is almost always the basis of a lawsuit for damages.

Any intentional detention of the person of another not authorized by law is false imprisonment. It is any illegal imprisonment, without due process or under a false authority, without consideration of whether any crime has been committed or a debt due. Examples may include being locked in a car, driven about without opportunity to get out, or being tied to a chair or locked in a closet. It may be the follow-up to a false arrest, such as holding someone in the office of a department store, but more often it resembles a kidnapping with no belief or claim of a legal right to hold the person.

False imprisonment may be the detainment or arrest of a person without a warrant, with an illegal warrant, or with a warrant illegally executed. As long as the person was illegally deprived of liberty, the amount of time they were detained is irrelevant.

The remedy is an order to be restored to liberty by writ of habeas corpus and to recover damages for the injury by action of trespass. It is a criminal offense for which damages may be awarded.