Sunday, February 5, 2012

Liberty, Part XIX

William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England:

“II. We are next to consider the violation of the right of personal liberty. This is effected by the injury of false imprisonment, for which the law has not only decreed a punishment, as a heinous public crime, but has also given a private reparation to the party; as well by removing the actual confinement for the present, as, after it is over, by subjecting the wrongdoer to a civil action, on account of the damage sustained by the loss of time and liberty.”

“To constitute the injury of false imprisonment there are two points requisite: 1. The detention of the person; and, 2. The unlawfulness of such detention. Every confinement of the person is an imprisonment, whether it be in a common prison, or in a private house, or in the stocks, or even by forcibly detaining one in the public streets. Unlawful, or false, imprisonment consists in such confinement or detention without sufficient authority: which authority may arise either from some process from the courts of justice; or from some warrant from a legal officer having power to commit, under his hand and seal, and expressing the cause of such commitment, or from some other special case warranted, for the necessity of the thing, either by common law, or act of parliament; such as the arresting of a felon by a private person without warrant, the impressing of mariners for the public service, or the apprehending of waggoners for misbehaviour in the public highways."

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