California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

1400. No Arrest Involved—Essential Factual Elements

[Name of plaintiff] claims that [he/she] was wrongfully [restrained/ confined/detained] by [name of defendant]. To establish this claim, [name of plaintiff] must prove all of the following:

1. That [name of defendant] intentionally deprived [name of plaintiff] of [his/her] freedom of movement by use of [physical barriers/force/threats of force/menace/fraud/deceit/unreasonable duress]; [and]

2. That the [restraint/confinement/detention] compelled [name of plaintiff] to stay or go somewhere for some appreciable time, however short;

3. That [name of plaintiff] did not [knowingly or voluntarily] consent;

4. That [name of plaintiff] was actually harmed; and

5. That [name of defendant]’s conduct was a substantial factor in causing [name of plaintiff]’s harm.

[If you find elements 1, 2, and 3 above, but you find that [name of plaintiff] was not actually harmed, [he/she] is still entitled to a nominal sum, such as one dollar.]

[[Name of plaintiff] need not have been aware that [he/she] was being [restrained/confined/detained] at the time.]

New September 2003; Revised December 2010, December 2011

Directions for Use

In element 3, include the words “knowingly or voluntarily” if it is alleged that the plaintiff’s consent was obtained by fraud. (See Scofield v. Critical Air Medicine, Inc. (1996) 45 Cal.App.4th 990, 1006, fn. 16 [52 Cal.Rptr.2d 915].)

Include the paragraph about nominal damages if there is a dispute about whether the plaintiff was actually harmed. (See Scofield, supra, 45 Cal.App.4th at p. 1007.) Include the last paragraph if applicable. (See Id. at pp. 1006—1007.)

If the defendant alleges that he or she had a lawful privilege, the judge should read the applicable affirmative defense instructions immediately following this one.

Sources and Authority

  • “The crime of false imprisonment is defined by Penal Code section 236 as the ‘unlawful violation of the personal liberty of another.’ The tort is identically defined. As we recently formulated it, the tort consists of the ‘ “nonconsensual, intentional confinement of a person, without lawful privilege, for an appreciable length of time, however short.” ’ That length of time can be as brief as 15 minutes. Restraint may be effectuated by means of physical force, threat of force or of arrest, confinement by physical barriers, or by means of any other form of unreasonable duress.” (Fermino v. Fedco, Inc. (1994) 7 Cal.4th 701, 716 [30 Cal.Rptr.2d 18, 872 P.2d 559], internal citations omitted.)
  • “ ‘[T]he tort [of false imprisonment] consists of the “ ‘nonconsensual, intentional confinement of a person, without lawful privilege, for an appreciable length of time, however short.’ ” ’ ” (Scofield, supra, 45 Cal.App.4th at p. 1001, internal citations omitted.)
  • “The only mental state required to be shown to prove false imprisonment is the intent to confine, or to create a similar intrusion.” (Fermino, supra, 7 Cal.4th at p. 716.)
  • “[False imprisonment] requires some restraint of the person and that he be deprived of his liberty or compelled to stay where he does not want to remain, or compelled to go where he does not wish to go; and that the person be restrained of his liberty without sufficient complaint or authority.” (Collins v. County of Los Angeles (1966) 241 Cal.App.2d 451, 459—460 [50 Cal.Rptr. 586], internal citations omitted.)
  • “[I]t is clear that force or the threat of force are not the only means by which the tort of false imprisonment can be achieved. Fraud or deceit or any unreasonable duress are alternative methods of accomplishing the tort.” (Scofield, supra, 45 Cal.App.4th at p. 1002, internal citations omitted.)
  • “Because ‘[t]here is no real or free consent when it is obtained through fraud’ . . . the [plaintiffs’] confinement on the aircraft was nonconsensual and therefore actionable as a false imprisonment.” (Scofield, supra, 45 Cal.App.4th at p. 1006, fn. 16, internal citations omitted.)
  • “[C]ontemporaneous awareness of the false imprisonment is not, and need not be, an essential element of the tort.” (Scofield, supra, 45 Cal.App.4th at p. 1006.)
  • “[T]he critical question as to causation in intentional torts is whether the actor’s conduct is a substantial factor in bringing about the type of harm which he intended from his original act.” (Null v. City of Los Angeles (1988) 206 Cal.App.3d 1528, 1536, fn. 6 [254 Cal.Rptr. 492], internal citations omitted.)
  • “[T]he law of this state clearly allows a cause of action for false imprisonment notwithstanding the fact a plaintiff suffered merely nominal damage.” (Scofield, supra, 45 Cal.App.4th at p. 1007.)
  • “In addition to recovery for emotional suffering and humiliation, one subjected to false imprisonment is entitled to compensation for other resultant harm, such as loss of time, physical discomfort or inconvenience, any resulting physical illness or injury to health, business interruption, and damage to reputation, as well as punitive damages in appropriate cases.” (Scofield, supra, 45 Cal.App.4th at p. 1009, internal citation omitted.)

Secondary Sources

5 Witkin, Summary of California Law (10th ed. 2005) Torts, §§ 426—429

3 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 42, False Imprisonment and False Arrest, §§ 42.01, 42.07, 42.20 (Matthew Bender)

22 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 257, False Imprisonment, § 257.17 (Matthew Bender)

10 California Points and Authorities, Ch. 103, False Imprisonment, § 103.40 et seq. (Matthew Bender)

1 California Civil Practice: Torts §§ 13:8—13:10 (Thomson Reuters West)