CACI 1401 False Arrest Without Warrant by Peace Officer—Essential Factual Elements

California Civil Jury Instructions CACI

1401 False Arrest Without Warrant by Peace Officer—Essential Factual Elements

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

1.That [name of defendant] arrested [name of plaintiff] without a warrant;

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

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

Directions for Use

Give CACI No. 1402, False Arrest Without Warrant—Affirmative Defense—Peace Officer—Probable Cause to Arrest, if applicable, immediately after this instruction.

If plaintiff is seeking nominal damages as an alternative to actual damages, insert the following paragraph above element 2:

If you find the above, then the law assumes that [name of plaintiff] has been harmed and [he/she/nonbinary pronoun] is entitled to a nominal sum such as one dollar. [Name of plaintiff] is also entitled to additional damages if [he/she/nonbinary pronoun] 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 second element only if nominal damages are also being sought.

Sources and Authority

“Arrest” Defined. Penal Code section 834.

“False arrest and false imprisonment are the same tort. False arrest is a way of committing false imprisonment.” (Cox v. Griffin (2019) 34 Cal.App.5th 440, 446, fn. 6 [246 Cal.Rptr.3d 185].)

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.”

A person is liable for false imprisonment if he or she “ ‘authorizes, encourages, directs, or assists an officer to do an unlawful act, or procures an unlawful arrest, without process, or participates in the unlawful arrest … .’ ” (Du Lac v. Perma Trans Products, Inc. (1980) 103 Cal.App.3d 937, 941 [163 Cal.Rptr. 335], internal citation omitted.) Where a defendant “knowingly [gives] the police false or materially incomplete information, of a character that could be expected to stimulate an arrest” … “such conduct can be a basis for imposing liability for false imprisonment.” (Id. at p. 942.)

“It has long been the law that a cause of action for false imprisonment is stated where it is alleged that there was an arrest without process, followed by imprisonment and damages. Upon proof of those facts the burden is on the defendant to prove justification for the arrest.” (Cervantez v. J.C. Penney Co. (1979) 24 Cal.3d 579, 592 [156 Cal.Rptr. 198, 595 P.2d 975].)

Penal Code section 830 and following provisions define who are peace officers in California.

“False imprisonment and malicious prosecution are mutually inconsistent torts and only one, if either, will lie in this case. In a malicious criminal prosecution, the detention was malicious but it was accomplished properly, i.e., by means of a procedurally valid arrest. In contrast, if the plaintiff is arrested pursuant to a procedurally improper warrant or warrantless arrest, the remedy is a cause of action for false imprisonment.” (Cummings v. Fire Ins. Exch. (1988) 202 Cal.App.3d 1407, 1422 [249 Cal.Rptr. 568].)

Secondary Sources

5 Witkin, Summary of California Law (11th ed. 2017) Torts, §§ 507–513
3 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 42, False Imprisonment and False Arrest, § 42.23 (Matthew Bender)
22 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 257, False Imprisonment (Matthew Bender)
California Civil Practice: Torts § 13:20 (Thomson Reuters)