Torts I, Pages 49–50

Enright v. Groves

Colorado Court of Appeals, 1977

Facts:

While defendant was on duty as a uniformed police officer, he observed a dog running loose in violation of the city's "dog leash" ordinance. He saw the dog approaching plaintiff's house. As he approached the house, he encountered plaintiff's eleven-year-old son and asked if the dog belonged to him. The boy said it did and that his mother was sitting in a car on the curb. Defendant told the boy to put the dog inside and started walking towards plaintiff. She asked if she could help him, to which he demanded her driver's license. She only gave her name and address, so he again again demanded her driver's license, which she declined to produce. He said that if she would not do so, he would take her to jail. She responded with, "Isn't this ridiculous?" and defendant thereupon grabbed her arm, stating, "Let's go!" At the station she was charged with violation of the "dog leash" ordinance. A friend posted bail, but she was later convicted of the violation.

Defendants contend that Groves had probable cause to arrest plaintiff and that she was arrested for violation of the "dog leash" statute.

Procedural History:

Jury awarded plaintiff $500 actual damages and $1,000 exemplary damages.

Issue:

Did defendant falsely imprison plaintiff?

Rules:

  • Page 50, Paragraph 4

    [A] claim for false arrest will not lie if an officer has a valid warrant or probable cause to believe that an offense has been committed and that the person who was arrested committed it.

  • Bell: Conviction of the crime arrested for is a defense for false imprisonment.

Reasoning:

Plaintiff's arrest was not for her violation of the "dog leash" ordinance but for refusing to produce her license.

Holding:

Yes, defendant falsely imprisoned plaintiff. Affirmed.

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