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When might a business violate someone’s rights via false imprisonment

People face violations of their civil rights under many different circumstances. Police officers can violate someone’s rights by becoming overly aggressive or conducting an illegal search. Schools and other institutions can also infringe on an individual’s rights.

Occasionally, individuals and private businesses could also potentially violate the civil rights of an individual. For example, someone detained at a business due to allegations of shoplifting may have endured illegal conduct on the part of managers, security professionals or loss prevention specialists.

Those attempting to protect a business from theft sometimes become overzealous and may take actions that technically violate the law. The workers at a business could even potentially violate someone’s rights via false imprisonment.

The law prohibits false imprisonment

New Mexico state statutes make the false imprisonment of an individual a crime. It is inappropriate for a member of the public to falsely imprison another person. While many people have heard of citizen’s arrests and may assume that security professionals have the right to conduct such arrests, New Mexico statutes do not explicitly permit citizen’s arrest.

There are numerous restrictions on lawfully detaining someone as a civilian, not a state-authorized law enforcement professional. In general, best practices when conducting a citizen’s arrest include a requirement that the professional detaining someone to wait for law enforcement to arrive must have witnessed a felony occur.

Misdemeanor theft offenses likely do not warrant the forced imprisonment of someone suspected of shoplifting. Additionally, when the security professional did not actually witness the misconduct but responded instead to reports from workers or other customers, their actions may fall outside of the law.

False imprisonment can cause a host of challenges. There is the social fallout of someone’s unlawful detention in a public location. Anyone who witnesses the altercation could upload the story to social media and otherwise damage an individual’s reputation. There’s also the possibility of physical injury and psychological trauma to consider after a false imprisonment incident.

Violations of an individual’s civil rights may necessitate taking legal action. Learning more about civil rights under both federal and New Mexico state law, and seeking legal guidance accordingly, may benefit those who believe they have endured a violation of those rights.