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False imprisonment occurs when one person prevents you from leaving an area without your consent. While most often seen in kidnapping cases, false imprisonment can be for any length of time and frequently occurs in cases of domestic abuse, sexual assault, unlawful restraint, and in many other situations. This is a crime, and prosecutors can bring charges against a person for false imprisonment, but you have other options to make the offender pay for this crime. The attorneys at DC Law in Austin have represented victims of false imprisonment cases in civil court who sue the offender for damages caused by their crime.
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Elements of False Imprisonment
Under Texas law, a person commits false imprisonment if the incident has the following four elements:
Unlike criminal court, where prosecutors must prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that the offender committed this crime, in civil court the burden of proof is much lower. The victim must only convince the court by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning that the court is more than fifty percent sure that the offender committed the crime of false imprisonment in order to be held liable for monetary damages. A victim of false imprisonment does not have to wait for a criminal conviction or even for criminal charges to be filed before filing a civil lawsuit for the attack.
False imprisonment can happen anytime a person restrains or holds captive another person in a way that is willful, unlawful, and without consent. Examples of false imprisonment include false arrest by a police officer, being locked in a room or car by a household member, or physically holding someone in place to prevent them from leaving. Brandishing a weapon to keep someone from leaving is also considered false imprisonment, even if the incident takes place out in the open. Speaking with an experienced attorney about your experience will allow a lawyer to advise you whether you have a claim for civil damages as a victim of false imprisonment.
Civil Damages for False Imprisonment
An offender convicted of false imprisonment in civil court is liable for any economic and noneconomic damages inflicted upon the victim during the course of the crime. Economic damages include costs for any present and future medical bills that includes costs for therapy and other rehabilitation, lost wages, and loss of future income and benefits. Noneconomic damages include payment for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and the loss of enjoyment of life stemming from the trauma of the false imprisonment.