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Did you truly feel free to leave the police station?

One of the criteria of whether something counts as false arrest and/or false imprisonment is if the “suspect” in question felt free to leave at any time. Since false arrest has to do with unlawfully restraining someone’s freedom, something cannot be false arrest or false imprisonment if probable cause was present, or if the person was able to leave at any time and felt free to do so.

However, as you can imagine, this area can be gray. For example, if a police officer brings you to the police station in the back of a police car, do you truly feel like it is fine to leave at any time even if the police officers say so? There will likely be other details in the situation that paint a fuller picture.

Distrust of police

Not surprisingly, many people have a huge distrust of police officers. For example, a black man commuting every day in an area populated by whites may be repeatedly pulled over for no discernable reason. Then there are the police shootings and excessive force cases that have made headlines, big and small. Thus, it stands to reason that if the police ask you to come in for questioning, you may feel that you will be unfairly targeted if you refuse. (On the other hand, you may also feel like nothing good stands to come of answering the questions.)

So, suppose you do come in to answer questions about a crime police think you might have committed. You feel increasingly uncomfortable and increasingly limited as time goes by. Is that reason enough to believe you are not free to leave the police station? It is possible, yes, for example, if you ask to leave and the police officers keep coming up with reasons to keep you in the room.

Each situation is different. What constitutes false arrest and/or imprisonment in one case may not in another. If you believe you may have been subject to false arrest or imprisonment, a lawyer can review your case.

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