What Is Illegal Imprisonment?

Illegal imprisonment is another term for false imprisonment. False imprisonment is the illegal confinement of another person in such a way as to restrict the individual's right to move about in a free manner. Several elements make up illegal imprisonment and all of these elements are usually considered by the courts when deciding whether an individual has been falsely imprisoned.

  1. Boundaries

    • One of the things a person alleging false imprisonment must prove is that imprisonment kept him within boundaries that prevented him from leaving or restricted his right to free movement. The boundaries may be physical or psychological. An example of physical boundaries in illegal imprisonment is being locked inside a room. The walls and the locked door serve as insurmountable boundaries to the right of free movement. An example of psychological boundary is when a victim is held against his will under duress or threat. The threat serves as a mental insurmountable boundary to the right to free movement. False imprisonment could also occur when the aggressor confines the car keys of the person on the receiving end, effectively restricting his right to leave.


    • Another element of illegal imprisonment is awareness on the part of the victim that he is being held against his will. An example is a burglar who breaks into someone's house when the person is sleeping at night and locks the door to the homeowner's room while he steals. If the burglar unlocks the door before he leaves, the homeowner cannot claim illegal imprisonment because he was not aware that he was falsely imprisoned. This requirement means the victim must not only be aware of the illegal detention, but must also be aware of the boundaries restricting his free movement.


    • By its very definition, an illegal imprisonment is unlawful. As such, any act of alleged illegal imprisonment must be unlawful. This requirement is meant to protect those who actually do have a right or privilege to restrict the movement of some people under the law. For example, law enforcement officers have the right to arrest those who have broken the law. Those who have been arrested cannot claim illegal imprisonment as a result of the arrest or restriction of their free movement.


    • The punishment for illegal imprisonment varies and depends on factors such as the jurisdiction and severity of the detention. As such, illegal imprisonment could either be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. A misdemeanor is a lesser charge than a felony, which usually carries a jail term of several years. In addition, the victim of the illegal imprisonment could sue the aggressor for damages stemming from the false imprisonment.

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