What you should know about false arrests

A police officer arresting someone can be a frightening experience for the arrested person, especially for young people who fear the consequences even if they know they did nothing wrong. Many young people may not know that some situations do not call for an arrest. In fact, there are some arrests that are false arrests.

It is important to understand what a false arrest is and why it may happen. A false arrest is a violation of a person’s rights. If a juvenile or anyone experiences a false arrest that leads to criminal charges, the false arrest might taint the prosecution’s case.

Defining a false arrest

According to the Cornell Law School, a false arrest occurs when someone places another person under arrest even though the person making the arrest has no authority to do so. This generally occurs with store clerks and security guards who suspect someone has committed a crime and act to detain the person.

It is possible for a police officer to commit a false arrest. However, these cases are not as common as false arrests committed by private citizens since the police have the right to detain someone if they have a warrant or if they possess probable cause to believe an individual has committed a crime.

A look at false imprisonment

False imprisonment is a crime very similar to a false arrest. In some jurisdictions, false arrests and false imprisonment are the same. As FindLaw explains, a person without the legal authority to arrest a person might also illegally detain that person. False imprisonments can happen by locking someone in a room, physically restraining them, or just using verbal threats.

Why false arrests happen

A false arrest or false imprisonment may occur for various reasons. A young person may become intimidated by the uniform of a security guard and believe the guard is an actual police officer. Security guards may honestly believe they have the authority to make arrests. Some security guards abuse their power and feel they can use force to detain suspects.

Regardless of the reason, a false arrest could lead to actual police officers showing up and making a genuine arrest. Still, the fact that a person was falsely arrested or detained could bolster that person’s defense in court.