What is Considered a False Arrest?

Getting arrested is a stressful and overwhelming experience for anyone to endure. It comes with fear and uncertainty about both the immediate and the distant future. The person who got arrested will worry about what will happen next and whether they will end up in prison for a long time to come. Those anxieties are compounded even further if the arrest was false and the individual did not deserve to be apprehended in the first place.

Many people believe that the law is nearly infallible and always right, but police officers can make mistakes or have ill intent and that can mean they end up falsely arresting someone. If you have been falsely arrested, then you have a right to file a civil lawsuit against the arresting party, but you will need the help of an attorney. If you live in New York, then you can contact a civil rights attorney in Long Island: The Law Office of Ali Najmi.

False Arrest Defined

The legal definition of a false arrest is when a person takes another into custody without any legal justification for doing so. A false arrest can actually be done by anyone, though it is usually associated with police officers. In order for an arrest to be considered false, it must have the following elements.


This simply means that the person who made the arrest did so intentionally and with the purpose of confining another individual. Intent means that other people besides police officers can be guilty of a false arrest; security guards and store managers are also guilty of this practice if they confine someone they believe is guilty of shoplifting. If someone is accidentally or unintentionally confined, then that does not count as a false arrest.

The Plaintiff was Conscious of Their Confinement

What this means is that the person who was arrested was aware of the fact that they were being put into confinement. That means if an unconscious person was taken into custody but released before they regained consciousness, then they cannot make a claim that they were falsely arrested.

The Confinement was not Privileged

An arrest is considered to be privileged if it was legally justified. This is generally the most disputed aspect of any false arrest claim since the person who made the arrest will always say that they were justified in doing so. An arrest is justified if the arresting officer has probable cause or a warrant for the person’s arrest. Probable cause means that the officer witnessed the suspect committing a crime or the officer had a reasonable belief that the suspect committed a felony. However, an arrest can be unlawful if the warrant is invalid.

The Difference Between a False Arrest and a Bad Arrest

Many people consider any arrest under false pretenses to be a false arrest, but that is not always the case. If a police officer arrests someone based on information that is later found out to be false, then the officer did not act in an unlawful manner. It is considered a bad arrest, rather than a false arrest because it was based on bad information. Once the truth is discovered, the arrested person should be set free. After they have been released, they cannot sue the police officer or the police department, but they might be able to sue the person responsible for giving the police the bad information in the first place.

It should be noted that resisting an arrest is a crime even if the arrest was bad, and in some states, even if the arrest was false. It is never a good idea to resist an arrest no matter the cause since that could land the individual in hot water. It is better to comply and sort the situation out later on, preferably with the help of an attorney.

What to do After a False Arrest

When a person is falsely arrested, they do not have to accept it as there are a few legal remedies that they can pursue.

Filing a Complaint Against The Police Department

The victim of the false arrest can file a complaint against the police department that demands the arresting officer face consequences for their false arrest. Those consequences could be suspension, retraining, or even termination.

Filing a Lawsuit Against The Police Department

Anyone who was falsely arrested can file a lawsuit against the police department for violating their civil rights. Such a lawsuit can be filed in state or federal court; if the suit is filed in federal court, then it will likely be a section 1983 lawsuit where they can seek monetary damages or an injunction. An injunction is a court order that requires the police department make changes that will prevent a similar offense from occurring in the future. The victim can also sue for monetary damages if the arrest resulted in medical bills, lost income because of missed work, or any pain and suffering caused by the arrest.

A Motion to Suppress Evidence Obtained From the False Arrest

If the victim does end up being charged with a crime, then they can file a motion demanding that any evidence that was obtained from the false arrest be excluded.

Contact Us If You Have Been Falsely Arrested

A false arrest is a gross civil rights violation and needs to be addressed as soon as possible. That is why the victim of any such action needs to contact a civil rights attorney as soon as they can so that the attorney can right the wrong that has been committed against them. There are many paths to victory in a false arrest case and a lawyer can choose the right one for you. So get in touch with an attorney if you have been the victim of a false arrest.

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