CACI No. 1408. Affirmative Defense - Police Officer’s Lawful Authority to Detain

Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions (2023 edition)

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1408.Affirmative Defense - Police Officer’s Lawful Authority to
[Name of defendant] claims that the detention was not wrongful because
[he/she/nonbinary pronoun] had a right to detain [name of plaintiff] for
questioning or other limited investigation.
If [name of defendant] has proven that [insert facts, that if established,
would constitute a reasonable suspicion], then [name of defendant] had a
right to detain [name of plaintiff] for questioning or other limited
New September 2003
Directions for Use
This instruction is intended to apply to false imprisonment actions not involving an
arrest. The inserted facts must support a finding of reasonable suspicion as a matter
of law.
If the factual issues are too complicated, consider bifurcating the trial.
Sources and Authority
“In an action for false arrest and imprisonment, the question of reasonable or
probable cause is ordinarily one for the court, and not for the jury. When the
facts are admitted or are beyond controversy, the question is to be determined by
the court alone. When the facts are controverted or the evidence conflicting, the
determination of their legal effect by the court is necessarily hypothetical and the
jury is to be told that if it finds the facts in a designated way such facts do or do
not amount to probable cause.” (Whaley v. Jansen (1962) 208 Cal.App.2d 222,
227 [25 Cal.Rptr. 184].)
“Although the line may at times be a fine one, there is a well-settled distinction
in law between an arrest and a detention. A detention is a lesser intrusion upon a
person’s liberty requiring less cause and consisting of briefly stopping a person
for questioning or other limited investigation.” (Cervantez v. J.C. Penney Co.
(1979) 24 Cal.3d 579, 591, fn. 5 [156 Cal.Rptr. 198, 595 P.2d 975].)
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 Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits seizures of
persons, including brief investigative stops, when they are ‘unreasonable.’ Our
state Constitution has a similar provision. A seizure occurs whenever a police
officer ‘by means of physical force or show of authority’ restrains the liberty of
a person to walk away.” (People v. Souza (1994) 9 Cal.4th 224, 229 [36
Cal.Rptr.2d 569, 885 P.2d 982], internal citations omitted.)
“A detention . . . has been said to occur ‘if the suspect is not free to leave at
will - if he is kept in the officers presence by physical restraint, threat of force,
or assertion of authority.’ (Evans v. City of Bakersfield (1994) 22 Cal.App.4th
321, 330 [27 Cal.Rptr.2d 406], internal citation omitted.)
“It is settled that circumstances short of probable cause to make an arrest may
justify a police officer stopping and briefly detaining a person for questioning or
other limited investigation.” (In re Tony C. (1978) 21 Cal.3d 888, 892 [148
Cal.Rptr. 366, 582 P.2d 957].)
“A detention is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment when the detaining
officer can point to specific articulable facts that, considered in light of the
totality of the circumstances, provide some objective manifestation that the
person detained may be involved in criminal activity.” (Souza, supra, 9 Cal.4th
at p. 231.)
“The state bears the burden of justifying a detention, as with all warrantless
intrusions.” (People v. Wilkins (1986) 186 Cal.App.3d 804, 809 [231 Cal.Rptr.
1], internal citation omitted.)
Secondary Sources
5 Witkin, Summary of California Law (11th ed. 2017) Torts, § 504
3 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 42, False Imprisonment and False Arrest,
§ 42.20 (Matthew Bender)
22 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 257, False Imprisonment,
§ 257.20 et seq. (Matthew Bender)
10 California Points and Authorities, Ch. 103, False Imprisonment, § 103.65 et seq.
(Matthew Bender)

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