False Arrest Claims in Georgia
Over the years the Georgia injury lawyers at Finch McCranie, LLP have represented clients who have been “falsely arrested”. In one memorable case, our client was accosted in the Lenox Mall parking lot by three store security officers who forcibly carried her back into the store where she was accused of shoplifting and strip searched. Eventually, the store realized they had made a mistake and told our client that she was “free to go”. She remained in the store and called the Atlanta who ended up arresting all three store security officers. A jury later returned a verdict for a million dollars.
The claims that can be brought against a business or an individual depend on the circumstances of the case. Georgia law recognizes different related torts in this area. Although the distinctions among the related claims have not always been clear in Georgia’s case law, Georgia’s Court of Appeals has tried to clarify them. They are: (1) false imprisonment, which is “unlawful” detention without judicial process, or without the involvement of a judge at any point (O.C.G.A. § 51-7-20); (2) false or malicious arrest, which is detention “under process of law (O.C.G.A. § 51-7-1); and (3) malicious prosecution, which is detention with judicial process followed by prosecution (O.C.G.A. § 51-7-40). An arrest “under process of law” is an arrest made pursuant to a warrant and the key distinction between malicious arrest and false imprisonment under O.C.G.A. §§ 51-7-20 and 51-7-1 is whether the person was detained using a warrant or not.
If you are falsely arrested you should consult with an attorney immediately. As with most cases, the sooner you can obtain counsel from a competent attorney, the better chance you have in making sure your rights are protected.