Physically detaining someone without the legal right to do so. quite often this involves private security people or other owners or employees of retail establishments who hold someone without having seen a crime committed in their presence or pretend that they are police officers. while they may be entitled to make a “citizen’s arrest” they had better be sure that they have a person who has committed a crime, and they must call law enforcement officers to take over at the first opportunity. other common false arrest situations include an arrest by a police officer of the wrong person or without probable cause to believe a crime has been committed and/or without a warrant. only when the arresting party knowingly holds someone who has not committed a crime, is the false arrest itself a crime. however, probable false arrest can be the basis of a lawsuit for damages, including mental distress and embarrassment.