Distinction from False Imprisonment

False imprisonment refers to the illegal confinement of one individual by another against his or her will.  Such confinement has to result in violating the confined individual’s right to free movement.  It is an attack on one’s physical liberty.

Abuse of process is the wrongful use of a civil or criminal legal procedure for an unintended and malicious reason meant to delay the delivery of justice or to attain a result other than what is intended by the process.

Abuse of the process of arrest may be established only by proving that the process was misused in furtherance of a hidden intention.  However, in false imprisonment, the motive of the wrongdoer is of lesser importance.  To prove false improvement, it has to be shown that the detainee was confined to a substantial degree that totally restrained his or her freedom.  Mere interference of one’s freedom to move to where s/he wishes does not amount to false imprisonment.  A false imprisonment claim would sustain only if the complaint sufficiently alleges that plaintiff was unlawfully arrested or unlawfully detained by the defendants.[i] In order to prove the tort of abuse of process, it has to be established that a prior civil proceeding was instituted by the defendant and the proceeding was instituted without probable cause and with malice.  Further, such proceeding should have terminated in favor of the plaintiff and damages were inflicted upon the plaintiff by arrest or imprisonment, by seizure of property, or other special injury which would not necessarily result in all suits prosecuted to recover for a like cause of action.[ii]

[i] Kaufman v. Brown, 93 Cal. App. 2d 508, 511 (Cal. App. 1949)

[ii] Runkle v. O’Neil, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8682 (D. Md. Feb. 7, 2007)

Inside Distinction from False Imprisonment