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False Imprisonment: Protecting Freedom of Movement


Battery and assault protect the right to be free of physical intrusions on the person. Trespass allows redress for intrusions on private property. False imprisonment safeguards an equally fundamental value, the right to be free of restraint on one's freedom of movement, the right to “go freely through the world,”[1] the right not to be confined against one's will. Physical confinement is a drastic intrusion on personal liberty, as well as a humiliating blow to a person's sense of dignity and independence. It isn't surprising that the tort of false imprisonment dates to the very early days of the common law.

The Elements of False Imprisonment

The law of false imprisonment in most states fairly closely reflects the formulation in the Second Restatement of Torts.

Section 35. False Imprisonment

(1) An actor is subject to liability to another for false imprisonment if

(a) he acts intending to confine the other or a third person within boundaries fixed by the actor, and

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