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California Hip-Hop Band Charged with False Imprisonment for Snarling Traffic

False imprisonment is not one of the more common crimes committed in this country. It is generally defined as restraining a person within a bounded area without justification or consent. It can be committed by a public authority, such as police, or private entities.

So how does a hip-hop band from Orange County, Calif., get charged with false imprisonment? The answer is by pulling off a publicity stunt that snarled thousands of motorists in a huge traffic jam. Three members of the band, the Imperial Stars, were charged with conspiracy, obstructing police, public nuisance, and false imprisonment for stopping traffic on the Hollywood (101) Freeway in October. Not surprisingly, the band also has a song entitled "Traffic Jam 101."

The trio started performing on top of a truck that was blocking three of the four southbound lanes of the freeway around noon. Traffic quickly came to a halt. Police arrived on the scene and arrested three of the band members, but the truck driver took the vehicle's keys and left the scene in another vehicle. A tow truck had to be summoned before the freeway could be cleared after a delay of approximately one hour.

The Los Angeles County district attorney was not the least bit amused by the stunt and characterized it as a "well-orchestrated commercial stunt perpetrated . . . with no concern for the lives or well-being of thousands of innocent victims who were caught up in the prank." The criminal complaint alleges that the defendants repeatedly refused to stop their performance and move their truck.

The incident proves that a false imprisonment case can arise from more than detention by police officers or retail establishments. If you believe you have been illegally detained, you should consult a competent attorney.