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The elements of an offense of false imprisonment are:

  • an intention to confine a detainee within boundaries arranged by a defendant;
  • total restraint of a detainee with no reasonable way of escape;
  • the detention must be against a detainee’s will[i];
  • the detainee must be aware that s/he is confined illegally and s/he should not have consented to detention;
  • restraint or confinement that is unlawful[ii];
  • actual restraint of a detainee’s freedom of movement; and
  • an interference with a detainee’s liberty[iii].

Recklessness is sufficient to constitute an element of intention.  However criminal intent, such as intentional or knowing, must be established to make false imprisonment punishable[iv].  Sometimes an element of specific intent is mandatory under some statutes.

Force used for confinement can be either actual or it can be reasonably apprehended force[v].  An act of detaining and handcuffing a customer and later transporting him/her to some closed room without reasonable ground will constitute an offense of false imprisonment.  Similarly, if a store manager or a security officer of a shop directs a customer to go to a security room for questioning about a suspicious currency or check transaction without reasonable ground, it would constitute a less serious kind of false imprisonment.

[i] State v. Berntsen, 295 S.C. 52 (S.C. 1988).

[ii] People v. Kittle, 140 Ill. App. 3d 951 (Ill. App. Ct. 2d Dist. 1986).

[iii] State v. Owen, 24 N.C. App. 598 (N.C. Ct. App. 1975).

[iv] Davis v. State, 365 Ark. 634 (Ark. 2006).

[v] People v. Cohoon, 315 Ill. App. 259 (Ill. App. Ct. 1942).

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