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Unlawful arrest V wrongful arrest

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Unlawful arrest V wrongful arrest

Postby BWH » Sun Mar 19, 2017 4:52 pm

This may be semantics but is there such a concept as wrongful arrest as opposed to unlawful arrest?

I'm bit confused on this. I keep seeing that for an arrest to be unlawful is decided whether the officer should or shouldn’t have believed that the person may have been involved in a criminal offence or about to commit an offence or Whether or not it was necessary to conduct an arrest. This implies that it only the actions of the arresting officer that can be unlawful. What happens if the officers belief he was doing the right thing but only because of either serious process errors or even lies told , which if didn't happen or the officer had of been aware of , would of led him to make an entirely different decision , is this wrongful arrest ? What criminal description is given to wilful wrong actions that led to a wrong arrest?

An example might be

If John was assaulted in his home town and he believed the culprit was Paul who he had a disagreement with. Paul has had run ins with the police. Certain officers know that Paul couldn't of committed the assault they knew for certain he was in France and Paul has told them this but out of malice they didn't feed this information to the officer. So going on the information he had the officer arrests Paul a week later , who on arrest protests he was in France. The officer says it was unlawful because he had reasonable suspicion but 2 questions would be
What do you call the actions of the officers who withheld the information ? Is the arrest wrongful ?
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Re: Unlawful arrest V wrongful arrest

Postby Spankymonkey » Fri Mar 24, 2017 1:32 pm

I would deem wrongful arrest to be an arrest that encroaches upon someone's civil liberties, whereas an unlawful arrest would be one that is in breach of statute or common law.

A police officer can arrest anyone they suspect in relation to a criminal offence as long as they hold a reasonable suspicion and the arrest is necessary. There is no statutory definition of reasonable suspicion, so it would depend upon the facts available at the time.
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Re: Unlawful arrest V wrongful arrest

Postby atticus » Fri Mar 24, 2017 5:20 pm

Is there a difference?
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Re: Unlawful arrest V wrongful arrest

Postby shootist » Fri Mar 24, 2017 8:25 pm

I think that the actual offending behaviour is neither unlawful arrest or wrongful arrest, but is unlawful imprisonment, I think. This would mean that for both questions in the OP, the matter is whether the arresting person was acting lawfully. So there is no functional difference between the two expressions as neither carries any weight, if I'm right.
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Re: Unlawful arrest V wrongful arrest

Postby Spankymonkey » Fri Mar 24, 2017 9:24 pm

atticus wrote:Is there a difference?

I wouldn't have thought so, but if there is an academic distinction that the OP has unearthed then that's how I'd define the two.

shootist wrote:I think that the actual offending behaviour is neither unlawful arrest or wrongful arrest, but is unlawful imprisonment, I think. This would mean that for both questions in the OP, the matter is whether the arresting person was acting lawfully. So there is no functional difference between the two expressions as neither carries any weight, if I'm right.


An unlawful arrest would give rise to a series of torts, not just false imprisonment, so it's wrong to say that unlawful/wrongful arrest is the same as unlawful imprisonment, as you call it. Many lawyers who specialise in police claims continue to refer to false arrest or unlawful arrest, as a blanket term for a multiple of torts that could arise from arrest.
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