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Book Index - Charge: False Imprisonment

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I must now direct you about the crime of false imprisonment. To prove this crime, the prosecution must prove the following 3 elements beyond reasonable doubt:

One – The accused deprived another person of his or her liberty;

Two – The accused intended to deprive that person of his or her liberty; and

Three – The deprivation of liberty was unlawful.

I will now explain each element in more detail.[1]

Deprivation of Liberty

The first element that the prosecution must prove is that the accused deprived another person of his or her liberty.

This requires the prosecution to prove that NOA prevented NOC from freely moving from one place to another, against NOC’s will.

[If it is alleged that the complainant was deprived of his/her liberty by non-physical means, add the following shaded section.]

NOA does not need to have physically prevented NOC from moving. A person can be deprived of their liberty by [insert relevant example, e.g., “threats or other intimidating conduct”.]

[If the complainant’s consent is in issue, add the following shaded section.]

You can only find this first element established if you are satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that NOC did not freely agree to [describe circumstances of alleged detention]. S/he will not have been deprived of his/her liberty if s/he agreed to remain at [identify location] for his/her own reasons, rather than because s/he was made to do so by NOA.

[If the reasonableness of any means of escape are in issue, add the following shaded section]

In deciding whether NOA deprived NOC of his/her liberty, you must consider whether NOC had a reasonable means of escape. A person who has a reasonable means of escape is not unlawfully imprisoned.

To determine whether a means of escape was reasonable, you must consider [describe factors relevant to the reasonableness of escape, including risks to the victim, risks to property, distance and time required to escape and the legality of the means of escape].

It is for the prosecution to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that NOC had no reasonable means of escape. If they are unable to do so, then you must find NOA not guilty of false of imprisonment.

[Summarise evidence and/or arguments.]


The second element that the prosecution must prove is that the accused intended to deprive the complainant of his/her liberty.

[Summarise evidence and/or arguments.]

Lawful Excuse

The third element that the prosecution must prove is that the accused’s deprivation of the complainant’s liberty was unlawful.

In this case, it is alleged that NOA’s acts were lawful because [identify lawful excuse]. This means that for this element to be met, the prosecution must prove that [describe facts required to disprove any alleged lawful excuse].

[Summarise evidence and/or arguments.]


To summarise, before you can find NOA guilty of false imprisonment the prosecution must prove to you beyond reasonable doubt:

One – That NOA deprived NOC of his/her liberty against his/her will;

Two – That NOA intended to deprive NOC of his/her liberty; and

Three – That NOA’s deprivation of NOC’s liberty was unlawful.

If you find that any of these elements have not been proved beyond reasonable doubt, then you must find NOA not guilty of false imprisonment.


[1] If an element is not in issue it should not be explained in full. Instead, the element should be described briefly, followed by an instruction such as: “It is [admitted / not disputed] that NOA [describe conduct, state of mind or circumstances that meets the element], and you should have no difficulty finding this element proven.”

Last updated: 18 November 2013

See Also

7.4.17 - False Imprisonment - Checklist: False Imprisonment