Duhaime's Law Dictionary


False Imprisonment Definition:

Intentional and total imprisonment of a person against his or her will and without lawful justification.

Often confused with false arrest, which is a derivative of false imprisonment.

In C.H.S., the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench adopted these words:

"[T]he elements of the tort of false imprisonment (are) that the Plaintiff was totally deprived of his liberty; the deprivation was against his will; (and) the deprivation was directly caused by the Defendant.

"An essential element of the tort is that an imprisonment has taken place. It is generally held that the imprisonment must be complete. Although imprisonment must be complete, it need not be physical in nature.

"An action for false imprisonment will lie where anyone is improperly detained, however little the force, if any, is used in connection with the detention.”

In Willie, a false imprisonment case, Judge Phillips wrote:

"The word false in the tortious sense, does not mean there must be deception; it refers to the fact the confinement was unauthorized or legally wrong."

In regards to imprisonment, the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench wrote, in Chopra, at ¶94:

"Imprisonment is defined as the detention of a person contrary to his will, the restraint of a person’s personal liberty, coercion exercised upon a person to prevent the free exercise of his powers of locomotion.   It may take place without the actual application of any physical agencies of restraint, such as locks or bars, as by verbal compulsion and the display of available force.  Every confinement of the person is an imprisonment, whether it be in a prison, in a private home, or even by forcibly detaining one in the public streets, any unlawful exercise or show of force by which a person is compelled to remain where he does not wish to be."

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