False imprisonment is the unlawful detention or restraint of another's freedom of movement, for any length of time, without justification or consent. There are four principle elements in a false imprisonment claim:
- The confinement must be without the victim's consent. Confinement can occur in a number of ways, including using a physical barrier (locking someone in a room or tying him up) or by threats of force (threatening to kill or by holding someone at gunpoint).
- There must be an intent to confine the victim.
- The victim must be aware of the confinement or be harmed in some manner by it.
- The victim must not be aware of any reasonable means of escape.
Example: If you intentionally trap someone in the basement of your home and lock all the doors, you have falsely imprisoned him or her. However, if there is a window that is within reach and wide enough for him or her to fit through, he or she is not falsely imprisoned because the window is a reasonable means of escape.