New York City False Imprisonment Lawyer
False arrests and false imprisonment—arrests or detention without probable cause—are sometimes made by security guards, lacking lawful authority, who restrain a person against their will and without consent. This is known as false imprisonment. This frequently happens in retail establishments when loss prevention personnel accuse someone of shoplifting, but it may also occur in restaurants, bars, hotels, nightclubs, and many other places where events and activities open to the public are owned and operated by private companies. Because of racial profiling in New York City, people of color are often the victims of these unreasonable accusations and detentions. Security guards are not public servants like police officers, and their main concern is the interests of their employer–the source of their paycheck − rather than constitutional principles like due process and civil rights. Furthermore, the requirements for becoming a private security guard are considerably less stringent than for police officers. They don’t receive the level of training required of police officers, and they are not regulated to the extent that police officers are. Put the wrong person in uniform and give him a badge, and abuse of authority becomes a real possibility—much more likely to occur in private security companies than in the police force. That’s why you need to speak with a New York City false imprisonment lawyer when circumstances like this arise.
New York City police can legally make an arrest if:
- They have an arrest warrant,
- They have probable cause to believe that the person committed a particular crime, or
- They have a good reason to believe the person is a criminal trying to flee the crime scene, or
- If the person is interfering with a legitimate police investigation or arrest.
Although most arrests are carried out appropriately, false arrests, which are arrests that don’t meet any of the above criteria, happen fairly frequently. A study by the Cato Institute in 2010 found that 6.8 percent of all police misconduct complaints are of false arrest. Because many improper arrests are never reported, this is probably just the tip of the iceberg.
Common False Arrest Situations In New York City
Many false arrest occur in conjunction with New York’s controversial “stop and frisk” policy, which allows police to stop and frisk a person they reasonably suspect to have committed a crime or to be about to commit one. Unfortunately, this policy has opened up the potential for racial profiling. In 2015.
- Police stopped and frisked 22,939 people
- Of these, 18,353 or 80 percent were absolutely innocent
- 12,223 of those stopped were black
- 6,598 or 29 percent of those stopped were Latino
- Only 11 percent—2,567—were white
Another situation that too often results in false arrest is a traffic stop in New York City. A police officer cannot just pull over drivers randomly; they driver must have done something illegal. A driver who is pulled over without cause and then arrested or imprisoned may be entitled to file a claim to recover damages for false arrest.
In many cases, a person who is wrongly arrested never really knows the reason the arrest occurred.
What Private Security Officers May Or May Not Do
Security guards or store personnel in New York City do not have the legal authority to arrest someone on mere suspicion; they are, however, allowed to hold a person once a crime has actually been committed, for example if someone leaves the premises with stolen merchandise. But even then, they can only detain the person long enough to allow a police officer to get to the scene and take over. Private security may only hold you for a reasonable amount of time. If they notify the police immediately but it takes a while for an officer to show up, this would usually be considered reasonable; but if they held you in custody for any length of time without calling the police, a New York City false imprisonment lawyer knows it could be considered excessive.
Furthermore, it must be done in a reasonable manner, which might include requesting identification, patting you down to determine if you are carrying a weapon, and if absolutely necessary, depending on the circumstances, using some form of physical restraint until law enforcement arrives. Security guards may not use excessive force, such as inflicting pain, applying choke-holds, or administering beatings. Using racial slurs, verbal threats, or any obscene, discriminatory, or inflammatory language may also be considered excessive force.
New York City private companies and private individuals can all be held liable in a court of law for false arrest or false imprisonment if you have not committed a crime and they have held you without your consent. If charges are never filed by the prosecutor, or if you are acquitted on all charges, you may have a case for recovering compensation from the guard and the company responsible for wrongly detaining you.
Recovering Damages For False Imprisonment
Any arrest is stressful, inconvenient, time-consuming, costly, and often frightening. This is even more true when the victim of a false arrest is completely innocent of any crime. If you have been stopped and detained without discernible cause and ultimately your case is dismissed, the prosecutor declines to prosecute, or you are acquitted, you should consult a New York City civil liberties attorney to see if you have a case for false arrest.
False arrest cases are brought in civil court and are rarely easy. Even if the charges are dropped or you are acquitted, if the police can show that they had any reasonable cause to believe you were involved in a crime, you might not have a case. And then there is the fact that police enjoy immunity from prosecution for actions performed within the scope of their employment, as long as the behavior was reasonable under the circumstances.
On the other hand, if you can show that the arrest was arbitrary, discriminatory, malicious, or the result of racial profiling, if you are represented by a good New York City false arrest attorney, you may be able to recover money for your damages.
Damages that you may be entitled to be compensated for include physical pain and suffering, mental anguish and humiliation, loss of time from work, damage to your reputation, and other expenses incurred as a direct result of the incident. In cases where a blatantly excessive level of force was used or you were severely mistreated, a jury may decide to award you punitive damages as well, designed to further punish the wrongdoing and deter future occurrences. To preserve your right to recover money for your losses, you should waste no time in contacting an experienced false imprisonment attorney in New York City.
Seek Legal Representation With Our NYC False Imprisonment Attorney
It may seem a daunting prospect to go up against the police department, which has the force of the government’s authority behind them. Opposing a government agency has special rules and complexities that other civil cases lack. While they are often extremely difficult, they can be won, and you may well succeed in winning substantial compensation for your economic, physical, and emotional damages. When the arrest can be shown to be especially malicious, the jury may also award you punitive damages, an extra amount designed not as compensation for your losses but as punishment for the officer (s) who were responsible.
In New York City, you can get the experienced advocacy you need by contacting the Law Offices Jon L. Norinsberg, who brings to the table more than 25 years of legal experience and a long record of success in recovering money for his clients who have been wrongfully detained by private security guards or police. New York City false imprisonment lawyer Jon Norinsberg will examine the circumstances in which you were detained, determine if you have a valid case, and advise you on the best way to proceed.
To ensure that you don’t miss a statutory filing deadline and to allow ample time for our office to investigate, it important to act as soon as possible. Call the Law Office of Jon Norinsberg today for a free case evaluation.