Malicious Prosecution and False Imprisonment:
In our daily activities, individuals are arrested for the commission of crimes while others are arrested for crimes that they did not commit. The various law enforcement agencies are saddled with the clear responsibility of maintaining peace and order in society and also preventing the commission of crimes. Crimes are being reported to Law enforcement agencies on daily basis and they are usually robust in rushing to the scene where the crime was committed for the apprehension of the suspect. However, this is applicable where the Suspect is seen committing the crime and it’s being reported to the police for his apprehension.
For clarity of understanding in this piece, we are going to use the police as a case study to represent all the Law enforcement agencies that we have in Nigeria. The police are usually in haste to arrest any person reported to them to have committed a crime. However, does it mean that the apprehension of a person based on the report of some persons entails that he has committed the alleged crimes? To the above question, we answer in the Negative because there are times that some ill-mannered persons may falsify some report and present to the police for the arrest, detention, and prosecution of an innocent person.
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The police at the receipt of the report usually meant to investigate the matter and effect arrest on the suspects and they are also expected when they affect an arrest on persons based on the report of some person to investigate the matter well before preferring a charge against the suspects. If the police fail to do the above and they hastily prosecute an innocent person, whom they arrested based on the ill-report of a person who did so in order to use the law against an innocent man, the police and the person who acted mala fide in reporting the case will be faced with a civil suit known as Malicious prosecution.
Malicious Prosecution is an action that can be instituted by a person who was wrongly arrested and prosecuted by the police based on the unverified report of the person who engineered the arrest and prosecution.
The parties that will be held liable for this civil suit are the police and the person who engineered the arrest maliciously. However, for a party to be entitled to these damages, he must be able to establish that he was maliciously arrested by the police based on the ill–report of another who engineered and sponsored the arrest and prosecution of the person.
It would be stated that for malicious prosecution to succeed that the criminal charge preferred against the Claimant must be out of malice (Mala fide), that the action was without probable cause, it ended in his favour, and that he incurred some damages as a result of the action.
False imprisonment involves the Claimant being detained falsely without a justifiable cause. The detention can be by law enforcement agencies or by an individual or other bodies. The claimant must have consented to the detention. The importance of this action is that the detention infringes on the fundamental right of the claimant. It’s part of the fundamental right of the Claimant to move freely without any obstruction or detention and he also meant to enjoy his liberty.
It has been stated above that a person can be arrested and detained in police custody without justifiable cause. The person arrested and detained falsely without a reason may be entitled to institute a civil suit. The civil suit is what is called False imprisonment. False imprisonment is a civil suit that may be instituted by a party who was falsely arrested and detained by either the police or other law enforcement agencies. The arrest and detention must have been done without probable cause.
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Actions for false imprisonment can succeed if the Claimant can establish that he was falsely apprehended and detained or he was detained without a justifiable cause and that such detention was against his will and he incurred some damages as a result of such detention.
Thanks for reading through this piece, Malicious Prosecution and False Imprisonment.