False Imprisonment is the illegal confinement of one individual against his or her will by another individual in such a manner as to violate the confined individual’s right to be free from restraint of movement. It is the act of depriving someone of freedom of movement by holding a person in a confined space or by physical restraint including being locked in a car, driven about without opportunity to get out, being tied to chair, or locked in a closet.
False imprisonment often involves the use of physical force, but such force is not required. The threat of force or arrest, or a belief on the part of the person being restrained that force will be used, is sufficient. The restraint can also be imposed by physical barriers or through unreasonable duress imposed on the person being restrained.
To succeed in an action for false imprisonment with regard to police arrests, the victim must show that it was the defendant who was actively instrumental in setting the law in motion against him. For instance if Biola’s money is missing and she reports to the police that she confidently believes it was Chidi who stole it, if Chidi is subsequently arrested by the police but later found innocent and set free, Chidi can sue Biola for false imprisonment, however in other to succeed, Chidi must prove that it was Biola’s false report to the police that led to his false imprisonment.
It should however be noted that the position of the law is that an action for false imprisonment will not lie against a private individual who merely gave information which led the police on their initiative to arrest a suspect.
An individual alleging false imprisonment may sue for damages for the interference with her or his right to move freely. An individual who has suffered no actual damages as a result of an illegal confinement may be awarded nominal damages in recognition of the invasion of rights caused by the defendant’s wrongful conduct. A victim who has suffered injuries and can offer proof of them can be compensated for physical injuries, mental suffering, loss of earnings, and attorneys’ fees. If the confinement involved malice or extreme or needless violence, a plaintiff may also be awarded Punitive Damages