California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

1407. Unnecessary Delay in Processing/Releasing—Essential Factual Elements

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

1. That [name of defendant] held [name of plaintiff] in custody;

2. That there was an unnecessary delay [insert facts, e.g., “in taking [name of plaintiff] before a judge” or “in releasing [name of plaintiff]”];

3. That [name of plaintiff] did not consent to the delay;

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.

New September 2003; Revised December 2011

Directions for Use

If the plaintiff is seeking nominal damages as an alternative to actual damages, insert the following paragraph above element 4:

If you find the above, then the law assumes that [name of plaintiff] has been harmed and [he/she] is entitled to a nominal sum such as one dollar. [Name of plaintiff] is also entitled to additional damages if [he/she] proves the following:

The second sentence of the above paragraph, along with the final two elements of this instruction, should be omitted if plaintiff is seeking nominal damages only. Read “actually” in the fourth element only if nominal damages are also being sought.

Sources and Authority

  • Penal Code section 834 provides: “An arrest is taking a person into custody, in a case and in the manner authorized by law. An arrest may be made by a peace officer or by a private person.”
  • Penal Code section 825(a) provides, in part: “[T]he defendant shall in all cases be taken before the magistrate without unnecessary delay, and, in any event, within 48 hours after his or her arrest, excluding Sundays and holidays.”
  • Government Code section 820.4 provides: “A public employee is not liable for his act or omission, exercising due care, in the execution or enforcement of any law. Nothing in this section exonerates a public employee from liability for false arrest or false imprisonment.”
  • “The critical factor is the necessity for any delay in arraignment. These provisions do not authorize a two-day detention in all cases. Instead, ‘a limit [is placed] upon what may be considered a necessary delay, and a detention of less than two days, if unreasonable under the circumstances, is in violation of the statute’ and of the Constitution.” (People v. Thompson (1980) 27 Cal.3d 303, 329 [165 Cal.Rptr. 289, 611 P.2d 883].)
  • “ ‘[F]alse arrest’ and ‘false imprisonment’ are not separate torts. False arrest is but one way of committing a false imprisonment, and they are distinguishable only in terminology.” (Collins v. City and County of San Francisco (1975) 50 Cal.App.3d 671, 673 [123 Cal.Rptr. 525].)
  • “In determining which delays are necessary, this court has rejected arguments that the delay was ‘not unusual’ or made ‘the work of the police and the district attorney easier.’ As the Court of Appeal recently observed, ‘[t]here is no authority to delay for the purpose of investigating the case. Subject to obvious health considerations the only permissible delay between the time of arrest and bringing the accused before a magistrate is the time necessary: to complete the arrest; to book the accused; to transport the accused to court; or the district attorney to evaluate the evidence for the limited purpose of determining what charge, if any, is to be filed; and to complete the necessary clerical and administrative tasks to prepare a formal pleading.’ ” (Youngblood v. Gates (1988) 200 Cal.App.3d 1302, 1319 [246 Cal.Rptr. 775], internal citations omitted.)
  • “Although both false imprisonment and malicious prosecution may cause a person to be restrained or confined, under Asgari (Asgari v. City of Los Angeles (1997) 15 Cal.4th 744 [63 Cal.Rptr.2d 842, 937 P.2d 273]) only damages attributable to injuries arising from false arrest and false imprisonment are compensable in an action under state law against a public entity and its employees. False imprisonment ends at the point malicious prosecution begins which, under Asgari, is the point at which the person is arraigned.” (County of Los Angeles v. Superior Court (2000) 78 Cal.App.4th 212, 220—221 [92 Cal.Rptr.2d 668].)
  • “[W]here the arrest is lawful, subsequent unreasonable delay in taking the person before a magistrate will not affect the legality of the arrest, although it will subject the offending person to liability for so much of the imprisonment as occurs after the period of necessary or reasonable delay.” (Dragna v. White (1955) 45 Cal.2d 469, 473 [289 P.2d 428].)

Secondary Sources

5 Witkin, Summary of California Law (10th ed. 2005) Torts, § 445

3 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 42, False Imprisonment and False Arrest, § 42.26 (Matthew Bender)

22 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 257, False Imprisonment, § 257.24 (Matthew Bender)

10 California Points and Authorities, Ch. 103, False Imprisonment, § 103.110 et seq. (Matthew Bender)

1 California Civil Practice: Torts §§ 13:31—13:34 (Thomson Reuters West)