Unlawful Detention occurs when a police officer detains you for an unreasonable amount of time without probable cause to do so.
A police officer doesn’t need to arrest or charge an individual for there to be an unlawful detention. Typically, if the individual reasonably believes they are not free to leave without fear of arrest then they are detained. This does not mean an officer may not confront an individual. Police officers may at all times confront an individual and ask them questions. This is known as a consensual encounter.
An officer may also briefly detain an individual if they have reasonable suspicion supported by clearly articulated facts that a crime may be afoot. This kind of interaction with Police is called a Terry stop. A Terry stop which may become a full blown detention if it lasts for an unreasonable amount of time or if other factors such as handcuffing or detention make the brief detention feel more like a traditional arrest.
Other factors that determine the potential success of an unlawful detention case include:
- the duration of the detention
- whether an individual was incarcerated
- whether excessive force causing injury was used against the individual
- whether the individual was maliciously prosecuted