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Defining a false or wrongful arrest

When people think of a false or a wrong arrest, they generally imagine a Nebraska police officer placing a person under arrest without any justification for it. As FindLaw points out, an officer is usually guilty of wrongfully arresting a person if the officer did not have probable cause. Basically, an arrest is wrongful or false if the person committing the arrest had no legal authority to do so.

If a police officer does not possess a warrant to arrest you or to conduct a search that might lead to your arrest, then the officer must have probable cause that a crime has been committed or will happen. Generally, it is not easy to establish that a police official had no reasonable cause to suspect a crime, as the police depend on their own subjective judgment to ascertain if criminal activity is going on.

However, if you can establish that the police had no reasonable suspicion that you had engaged in criminal activity, you can seek damages in court from the officer or officers who had arrested you. Keep in mind that you are unlikely to collect any damages from the police department itself since state agencies are shielded from liability under federal law.

Wrongful arrests are not just limited to official law enforcement. According to the Legal Dictionary, security guards who work for private entities may engage in wrongful arrests, believing they have the legal right to arrest or detain somebody. However, a security guard does not the authority to actually arrest you. A guard might detain a person caught doing something wrong, but only long enough until the real police show up.

Additionally, some people might also try to detain somebody they believe is engaging in a crime, which is also known as a citizen's arrest. But just as with security guards, an ordinary private citizen cannot actually arrest a person. The citizen must contact actual police officers to show up and take charge. Otherwise, the person trying to make the arrest could be held liable for false imprisonment or other related charges.

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