Unlawful detainment refers to the restriction of a person’s freedom to leave by a police officer without presenting a legal justification for doing so. Unlawful police detention is a violation of the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits law enforcement officers from conducting unreasonable searches and seizures. If you were illegally detained by the police, seek legal assistance from a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Detention vs Arrest
Police detention is different from an arrest in that while both take away a person’s freedom of movement, detentions are less intrusive than arrests since it doesn’t require the defendant to be put in custody. There are various types of encounters with law enforcers, and not all of these are considered detention. These include:
- Purely consensual police encounters;
- Stop and frisks and other kinds of short detention;
- Encounters in a traffic stop; and
- Executing an arrest warrant.
Arrests allow law enforcers to conduct a full search of the suspect and use restraint to take you into custody for a criminal law violation. However, these can only be made when there’s probable cause for a criminal offense. Otherwise, using unlawful restraint or arresting without probable cause is considered a false arrest.
If a law enforcer falsely arrested you or violated your constitutional rights, consult a local defense lawyerto learn about what legal action you should take.
Encounters Considered as Detainment
Terry stops.These are brief detentions that involve stopping and frisking suspects when there’s a reasonable suspicion of a crime. While you are not free to leave during a Terry stop, the police officer is also limited to searching you for weapons through frisking and only for a short period.
Traffic stops. If an officer has reasonable suspicion that a crime or traffic infraction occurred, they can prevent both drivers and passengers from leaving for a short duration while they search for evidence of the suspected offense.
If you were wrongfully arrested or detained by a police officer, speak with a criminal defense lawyer to discuss the circumstance of your arrest and get legal aid.
Examples of Unlawful Detention
You are considered to be unlawfully detained if police officers violate your Fourth Amendment rights through any of the following:
- Lying to obtain search or arrest warrants;
- Conducting an unlawful arrest;
- Detaining someone for an unreasonable cause;
- Detain someone for an excessively long period; and
- Restraining with or using excessive force in an arrest.
Generally, lawful detention only lasts for the amount of time it takes to find proof of committing a crime. The detention can last longer if the officer finds evidence of a crime, but if not, it becomes unlawful to continue detaining you.
Legal Actions You Can Take
If you were a victim of unlawful detention or confinement, there are several things you can do under federal and state law.
The first one is to file a complaint against the law enforcement officer. This will hold the police officer accountable and can result in them getting reprimanded, suspended, or even fired.
Another thing you can do is filing an exclusionary motion to the court for any evidence of a crime found during the wrongful detention. If you were charged with a crime after being unlawfully detained, you can ask the court to have the prosecution disregard evidence collected in wrongful imprisonment or detainment. In most cases, the prosecutor will have to drop charges due to a lack of evidence.
File a state or federal lawsuit against the officer or department to get an injunction. You can have the police department sued to enjoin them to take a particular action, such as changing arrest policies, moving officers into departments that don’t interact with the public, or requiring local police to undergo additional training.
A lawsuit can also be filed in requesting monetary damages as compensation to the victims of police misconduct. The compensation owed covers the following damages:
- Damage to their reputation from the wrongful arrest;
- Lost wages and reduced earning capacity due to sustained injuries;
- Loss of liberty from unlawful detainment;
- Medical expenses for injuries due to excessive force; and
- Physical pain and suffering and emotional distress due to the violations.
Punitive damages can also be awarded to the victim as punishment for the wrongful conduct or unlawful arrest policy of legal authority.
If you’re a victim of unlawful detainment or false imprisonment and arrest, you should speak with an attorney especially if you’re facing criminal charges. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys can discuss your options with you, prepare your defense for the criminal case, and assist you throughout the legal process. At the Law Offices of Marc Grossman, we will fight for you. Call us today to schedule your free consultation!