Being Accused of False Imprisonment
False imprisonment is a crime that not everyone is familiar with. One might assume it only applies to law enforcement falsely holding someone, but this crime can also apply to civilians. If you’ve been accused of false imprisonment, you should fully understand false imprisonment charges and how they will affect you.
What is False Imprisonment?
You can be charged with false imprisonment if you hold or restrain anyone without their consent in a situation where they can not get away. False imprisonment charges do not have a time limit as a condition. You can hold someone for a few days, a few hours, or even a few minutes. Regardless of the time frame, it is considered false imprisonment. Another important factor to note is the individual does not have to be kept in a confined space. If their movement is restricted in any way, it is false imprisonment. In fact, it is even false imprisonment if the victim is threatened with violence if they attempt to leave.
Types of False Imprisonment
To better understand false imprisonment, it’s worth looking at examples of what constitutes false imprisonment. As mentioned, the victim must be restrained from leaving the situation. Locking someone in a room or grabbing them and keeping them from leaving are both false imprisonment. It’s also false imprisonment if a security guard or store owner holds someone for an unreasonable amount of time (whether it be for suspected theft or other suspicious activity). However, some states will allow these individuals to hold people, but only if they have reasonable evidence or suspicion of theft. False imprisonment is also closely related to kidnapping. In some cases, you can even be charged with both. The distinction between false imprisonment and kidnapping will vary by state. For example, California law considers it kidnapping if you move the person even a short distance within the same county.
If you’ve been accused of false imprisonment, then you must defend yourself by proving you had detained someone reasonably. For example, if you do work in a store and you hold someone for theft, you can use this as your defense. Law enforcement officers can detain someone if they have probable cause. You can also make what is considered a citizen’s arrest. This is when you detain someone when you have called law enforcement to come collect the person being detained. Again, you must have a valid reason for doing so. Another key element in a false imprisonment case is consent. If the person consented to being restrained at all, then they can not later claim false imprisonment.
These are serious charges that can lead to hefty fines, jail time, or probation. If you’ve been accused, you need to know exactly what the charges against you are so you can make the best defense for your case. Having an attorney will greatly benefit you.
A criminal law attorney can help you navigate your false imprisonment charges. Click here to contact an experienced attorney.
Bradley Corbett is a criminal defense attorney in San Diego. He graduated from Brigham Young University in Provo Utah in 2004. Later he enrolled at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego where he participated in a prestigious internship program with the Los Angeles County Public Defender. Since then he has handled over 2,000 cases.